Jul 30, 2015

Scott Walker Lied, Was Key Player in Aborted Open Records Scheme

The scheme to gut Wisconsin's Open Records law came from Scott Walker's office, contradicting an earlier denial from Walker that the aborted move "didn't come from us," new records show (Marley and Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) (Beck, Wisconsin State Journal).

Scott Walker lied again.

Will the national press get the story that Walker is a pathological liar, and an empty suit?

As late as July 7, Walker refused comment, (Mal Contends) before Walker issued a flat denial on the rightwing Milwaukee talk radio Charlie Sykes Show on July 10. (Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Said Walker on July 10: "That was brought to us by the Legislature, and said they wanted to look at it and wanted our input. And we brought up some things that we still think are legitimate in terms of records that involve things like having our staff giving you options on briefings and things like that. Not anything that's external in that regard. ... In the end, I think it was a mistake to even think about it in the budget, even though it didn't come from us. It's a complicated process, and it's one that I think will be best suited in a Legislative Council committee."

Jul 28, 2015

Judicial Oblivion: Wisconsin Supreme Court Ignored Legal Precedent to End the John Doe Investigation

"In short, the Wisconsin court cited the wrong precedents and wholly ignored the right ones. It is difficult to reconcile its holding with Buckley or McConnell, as a dissenting opinion by Justice Abrahamson pointed out—and perhaps this is why the majority made no attempt to do so," notes Tara Malloy of The Campaign Legal Center.

A must-read by Malloy of the Wisconsin Supreme Court that is corrupt and no longer deserves respect.

Jul 27, 2015

Wisconsin Veteran Waiting for Justice, and Claim from Veterans Appellate Board

U.S. Navy Airman Keith Roberts (1969-71)
Keith A. Roberts is a former U.S. Navy airman who served honorably from 1968-1971 during the Vietnam War era.

Roberts of Gillett, Wisconsin worked on line duty on February 4, 1969 at a Navy airbase in Naples, Italy and—as did all men on duty—tried to save the life of Airman Gary Holland who was being crushed to a death by a C-54 aircraft in a tragic, life-altering accident for both men.

Adding gross insult to injury, Roberts was pursued by top VA and DoJ officials in 2004-05 and indicted and convicted of wire fraud on the basis that he and Airman Holland were not friends, a bizarre indictment.

Roberts and Holland had parallel military careers as young airmen, training and serving together at several military facilities from 1968-1969. Both men served as engine mechanics.

At the deadly accident scene in 1969 Holland lay pinned by the nose wheel while Roberts tried frantically to move the wheel of this transport craft off of Holland, issuing orders to military superiors who Roberts felt were more concerned about the aircraft than his friend.

In May 1998, this Vietnam-era veteran was awarded benefits for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), though Roberts had to navigate the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) bureaucracy that made 'proving' the circumstances associated with filing a PTSD disability claim difficult at best.

Keith A. Roberts later prevailed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) (which has exclusive jurisdiction over VA claims) on April 23, 2010 [Roberts v. Shinseki, 23 Vet. App. 416, (2010)]. That case started in 2003. As of July 28, 2015, his benefits have not been restored as ordered by the CAVC.

What happened to this veteran?

Roberts was "prosecuted [by US Attorney Steven M. Biskupic (later attorney for Scott Walker's political campaign)] for tenaciously pursuing a claim for benefits, which VA resisted and which is still in the benefits review process" (Horton, Harper's Magazine), after Roberts followed the advice of his local Shawno County (Wisconsin) Veterans Service Officer and asked the VA for an earlier retroactive date for his claim.

Roberts was targeted by top U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (DVA) officials who conspired with the U.S. Dept of Justice under the Bush-Cheney administration in 2004-05 in an effort to discourage Vietnam War-era veterans from filing for disability benefits (Mal Contends) (Mal Contends).

The US Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin said that Holland and Roberts were not friends, and Roberts who was on line duty at the base at the time of Holland's death exaggerated his efforts to save Holland. That's the basis for the 2004-05 indictment (four counts of wire fraud) that Biskupic said is an elaborate scheme by Roberts.

Roberts spent four years in a federal prison for a crime CAVC conceded he did not commit (one cannot commit benefits fraud if one were then and is now entitled to a 100 percent veterans disability benefits rating).

A new hope

Roberts is still awaiting ultimate disposition of his disability claim, amid new developments: An increased appreciation for PTSD after President Obama's administration changed the PTSD disability claim regulations (White House), and the acceptance among medical professionals that Vietnam-era veterans still are symptomatic decades later. (CBS News and Journal of the American Medical Association).

In a related development, a Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA) whistle-blower revealed an anti-veterans' animus last year in claims records manipulation (Stars and Stripes), a complaint similar to an objection Roberts made when he accused the VA of falsifying a transcript at a hearing in Milwaukee. Stay tuned.

Jul 25, 2015

Scott Walker's Corrupt Rise in a Picture

State Capitol square in Madison, Wisconsin - Jason Louise Huberty (Facebook)
The prevailing political sentiment is that Scott Walker is finished in Wisconsin
politics amid secretly held wishes by progressives Walker wins the nomination
of the Republican Party for the presidency. Walker is a lightweight, and word
is spreading fast across the political class in GOP circles. A Bradley Foundation
appointment awaits Walker after he is caught in a listening session or asked
a follow-up about public policy and ethics. Walker cannot think on his feet,
and other character flaws are legion, material that is available on video.
Koch money, all the money in the world from plutocrats, cannot turn
the straw man into gold, hence Walker will be instructed to bow out
when he becomes a liability, and rightwing billionaires become bored.

Jul 24, 2015

Feds Regularly Monitored Black Lives Matter Since Ferguson

"The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since anti-police protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, according to hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request."

George Joseph at The Intercept has the story.

Wisconsin Supreme Court's Legitimacy Is Gone

Readers will not find Wisconsin attorneys blasting Justices Roggensack-Prosser Jr.-Ziegler-Gableman as a bloc for rightwing special interests following the Court's decision shutting down the John Doe probe—creating a Wisconsin-GOP-only interpretation of campaign finance law and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

There's a compelling reason for silence among Wisconsin jurists, and it's not based on sentiment or position.

To call out Roggensack-Prosser Jr.-Ziegler-Gableman as corrupt would be an ethical breach for a Wisconsin attorney, violative of (Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule) SCR 20:8.2  Judicial and legal officials.

So it's up to some 20 writers or so across that the state to note, as does Lincoln Caplan in The New Yorker, that the four Republican members of the Court "substituted the misrule of politics for the rule of law."

Justice Roggensack, Prosser Jr., Ziegler and Gableman are corrupt and ruled according to whom the litigants are.

Photo ID

Back before League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker and Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker reached the Wisconsin Supreme Court, I asked around: Did Wisconsin Act 23, the GOP-crafted photo voter ID law, have a chance at the Court in light of the Wisconsin Constitution, Article III, Section 1 reading: "Every United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district," an expansive guarantee to vote that has been under attack since Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans assumed control of the executive and legislative branches of Wisconsin government in 2011. (Mal Contends)

No jurist contacted said, 'yes.' The Court would lose all credibility.

Corruption

Today is different than a few years back. The Roggensack-Prosser Jr.-Ziegler-Gableman bloc is corrupt and the rule of law is gone.

There should be no public confidence in the administration of justice from the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Even Wisconsin's Legislative Reference Bureau is partisan now as a reading of Wisconsin's Constitution, Article III, Section 1's new language demonstrates.

The Republican Party's ideal of representative democracy is a One-Party state with unrecognized individual rights and unrealized protections for vulnerable members of society, it's called fascism and should be so stated.

Scott Walker's DNR: Stop Scientific Analysis

The map shows increase in annual mean surface concentration of
particulate matter resulting from ammonia emissions associated
with food export. Populated states in the Northeast and
Great Lakes region, where particulate matter formation is
promoted by upwind ammonia sources
, carry most of the cost
onto communities. Manure from livestock and fertilizer for crops
release ammonia to the atmosphere. In the air, ammonia mixes
with other emissions to form microscopic airborne particles,
or particulates. Image: NASA AQAST/Harvard University
Ammonia is "well recognized as a human toxin," note environmental health and biosystem experts

Lest there be any doubt Scott Walker, Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa), and the GOP do the will of industrial polluting farms, an Associated Press piece by Todd Richmond makes the conclusion inescapable.

The Republican Party is the Party of pollution and will remain so.

Health and environmental consequences are of no concern.

Reports Richmond:

"Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is seeking the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, controls the DNR. He has made it a point since taking office in 2011 to compact the agency’s regulations to help [polluting] businesses."

Richmond left out the word, "polluting," noting elsewhere: "The proposed list of projects that wouldn’t need environmental [DNR] review includes construction and renewal permits for minor air-pollution sources, defined as sources that emit less than 100 tons of any criteria air pollutant annually. Approval of construction plans for wastewater treatment plants and factory farm structures subject to DNR review wouldn’t require an analysis. Neither would decisions related to evaluating existing factory farm facilities and systems."

Air pollution from CAFOs (Confined Agricultural Feeding Operations) is dangerous and increasing (see chart, above-right), hence Walker's latest attempt to insulate CAFOs from legal and regulatory oversight in Wisconsin.

Ammonia is "well recognized as a human toxin," note environmental health and biosystem experts. (Merchant, Kline, Donham, Bundy, Hodne, University of Iowa College of Public Health)

"The most significant contributor to air pollution that stems from CAFOs is ammonia. Ammonia is the powerful odor that is associated with large farms. It is created by the decomposition of manure and the combination of nitrogen and hydrogen. When released into the air, ammonia tends to form very harmful particulate matter that can lead to serious health issues, especially for humans. A frightening statistic published in Environmental Science and Technology states that 'the health costs associated with ammonia emissions from agriculture exports to be $36 billion per year, equal to about half of the revenue generated by those same exports' (Fabien Paulot and Daniel Jacob (Harvard University), cited in Hansen, NASA). What’s frightening about this statistic is this is only in regards to the health costs associated with the exports we produce, not the agriculture industry as a whole. The United States exports only account for about 11 percent of the US emissions of ammonia, leaving the other 89 percent coming from the ammonia created to produce our own food. The negative externalities [health and economic costs bore by communities and citizens] caused by ammonia pollution don’t just extend to the area surrounding the CAFO, but affect areas within the downwind path of the CAFO where ammonia is able to mix with other man-made pollutants to form dangerous particles in the atmosphere. Similarly, air pollution stands in the same position as water pollution in regards to its dangerous impacts on the human condition and psyche," writes Joshua Yelle, (Research Fellow, Western Illinois University). (Mal Contends)

Big Ag polluters are being paid off handsomely by Wisconsin Republicans, shielded by Walker and Republicans who are blocking scientific analyses by the DNR.

"Republican lawmakers retained a Scott Walker proposal in the 2015-17 budget to eliminate nearly 20 research positions in the DNR’s Science Services Bureau," notes Richmond.

George Meyer, former DNR secretary and now executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said, "I hate hyperbole, but I can honestly say that this is one of the two worst conservation budgets in the past 50 years." (Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Jul 23, 2015

Groundwater: Diminishing Resource, Increasing Conflict

Christa Westerberg has a piece out in the Wisconsin Lawyer.

As Scott Walker partners with polluters to befoul our waters, Westerberg writes:

Wisconsin’s waters have been protected since before it was a state. The concept of the public trust doctrine, or the state holding navigable waters in trust so they remain forever free and open to the public, was passed down from the Northwest Ordinance to the Wisconsin Constitution, article IX, section 1.1 State statutes have since been crafted to protect Wisconsin’s groundwater and surface water and to give the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) primary responsibility for overseeing this resource.

What Walker and Big Ag are doing in befouling our waters is crazy and likely unconstitutional.

Obama Acts Against War as GOP Screams: 'We Want War'

Support President Obama and the world and voice your support to your US senators in approving the Iran Nuke agreement

Stop Republican madness. Sign the leading anti-war coalition petition and tell Congress: Defend the Iran Nuke deal and stop Republicans from starting a war with Iran.

"The international agreement to ensure that Iran’s nuclear energy program stays peaceful is not just a victory for non-proliferation but part of a more realistic realignment of U.S. policy toward the Mideast, finally recognizing the bloody futility of 'full-spectrum dominance.'"

So reads ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller's piece in ConsortiumNews supporting peace and security and rejecting war.

The Republican Party wants war with Iran and has become a rogue political force in international affairs, aligning itself with the most destructive, lawless parties of Israel.

The Republican Party is perfecting willing to send American troops and Marines to die and destabilize, even now refusing to acknowledge the catastrophe their Iraq War lies inflicted onto the our country and the world.

The Obama administration deserves our support against the 'Three Amigos' idiocy of Sens. McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and kill-the-public-healthcare-option Joe Lieberman making the rounds calling for rejection of the World v. Israel and the Republican Party deal (Benen, MSNBC).

Support President Obama and the world and voice your support to your US senators in approving the Iran Nuke agreement.

Remember Scott Walker, a typical if more corrupt-than-usual Republican, said U.S. war with Iran on Inaugural Day, should Walker become president, is "very possible." (Nichols, The Nation)

This is madness. Sign the leading anti-war coalition petition and tell Congress: Defend the deal and stop Republicans from starting a war with Iran.

Scott Walker Heads to ALEC — Corporate HQ of Big, Bold Ideas

The New York Times notes today:
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Huckabee will be among the speakers at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s [ALEC] annual meeting in San Diego, which began on Wednesday and runs through Friday. ALEC is a conservative group with ties to the brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch ... .
The next time Walker says he has a big, bold idea like taking away local government control of communities, or driving down wages for working families, ask Walker where he got the idea.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is so tight with Walker that the group who did groundbreaking reporting on ALEC notes of Scott Walker that he would become "the First ALEC President" in a piece in June.

Walker has been fronting for ALEC for decades.

Notes Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch:

After Walker entered the governor’s office in 2011, he quickly pushed many ALEC priority measures 'by request of the Governor.' In his first year, Walker signed 19 ALEC bills into law‬, which went after unions, preempted paid sick days bills, enacted voter ID restrictions, and made it harder to hold corporations accountable in the courts. 
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a neo-fascist, underground movement operating in a media world of make-believe.