This week, potential 2016 presidential contender and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker demonstrated how little knowledge he had of history and basic mathematical skills – all at once. Observing the arrival of the first settlers to Jamestown in 1607, this gem of a tweet was released from Walker’s account:
There’s just one little (or glaring) problem: the settlers really arrived 408 years ago – not 505, as the tweet states. Walker’s “team” eventually realized they were 97 years ahead of themselves, and sent out a correction 50 minutes later. Walker basically threw his so-called team under the bus for the error.
The president of Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation, James Horn, responded to the tweet with humor:
“It’s always gratifying to hear our politicians referencing the early history of our country and, in this case, the founding of Jamestown. I am sure that on reflection Governor Walker will recall that Jamestown was founded in 1607 which is 408 years ago.”
Eric Walker, the western regional press secretary for the Democratic Party, also thought the erroneous tweet was comical and posted this, eluding to the fact that Walker had never earned a college degree.
The mathematical flub is hilarious, but the tweet attracted criticism for another, more serious reason. Walker was called out for being a hypocrite, since the tweet was commemorating the nation’s first immigrants. Recently, the Wisconsin governor has been developing a track record for opposing undocumented immigrants gaining citizenship in the United States. Just two months ago, Walker stated that he didn’t “believe in amnesty.” In April, it appeared that he wanted to limit legal immigration when he said:
“In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying, we will make adjustments. The next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages, because the more I’ve talked to folks — I’ve talked to Senator Sessions and others out there, but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today —is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages, and we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward.”
It seems that Walker’s Twitter feed has nothing to do with facts, or anything he actually believes in.
As Gov. Scott Walker ramps up his 2016 presidential campaign, he’s using Wisconsin to show what he’d like to do to the entire United States of America. Right now, his budget—the one that would cut $300 million from universities while including $220 million in bonds for a professional basketball arena—is being debated, and Alice Ollstein takes a look at its effects on education:
Funding at UW-Rock County would be stripped back to levels not seen since 1998, and the school’s dean has said faculty layoffs are almost certain. The situation appears even more dire at UW-Eau Claire, where administrators have offered buyouts to a record 325 faculty and staff members — about a quarter of the campus’ employees. These so-called “go away packages” have been offered to nearly half of the school’s political science department. UW-Stevens Point reports they willeliminate several entire majors, even for studentscurrently enrolled in them.And it’s not just higher education feeling the pain.
Public primary schools across Wisconsin will lose about $127 million in education aid next year, largely by scrapping a special $150 per-student fund that Wisconsin school districts received over the past two years.
The struggling Milwaukee public schools are set to lose more than $12 million.
Prediction: After cutting $12 million from the Milwaukee public schools, Walker will grandstand about how the schools are failing the children, using that to push privatization.
This is looming widespread disaster. In higher education, we’re talking about a significant number of jobs, including both faculty and staff. Students will be affected, too, and not just by bigger classes and less advising and support: If you eliminate entire majors, the students currently in those majors are going to have to scramble to graduate. It may take some longer to put together the courses needed for a new major, meaning they’ll accumulate more student loans. If the students had career plans based on a specific major, they’ll be graduating and looking for jobs at a disadvantage. In K-12 schools, already hit hard by Walker’s 2011 budget, another round of cuts could mean fewer guidance counselors, less art and music education, bigger classes, scantier classroom supplies—generally a barebones, second-class education.
Which Scott Walker would like to export to the rest of us starting in 2017. At least where Republican governors and state legislatures haven’t already beat him to it.
President Obama on Mondayaccused Republican senators of “interfering” in nuclear negotiations by writing a letter to Iran warning that any deal could be modified or revoked by Congress after Obama leaves office in 2017. The letter came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the invitation of GOP leaders, told a joint session of Congress that a deal would “pave Iran’s path to the bomb.” Obama said the 47 senators who signed the letter were forming an “unusual coalition” with hardline Iranian leaders.
The Missouri Supreme Court assigned a state appeals court judge to oversee municipal cases in Ferguson, saying “extraordinary action” was needed to restore trust in the court system there. The move came days after a scathing Justice Department report accusing the police and municipal court of unfairly targeting African Americans, and using court cases to raise money. The current municipal judge, Ronald J. Brockmeyer, announced his resignation after being cited repeatedly in the report.
HBO announced at Apple’s big Monday product announcement that it was launching HBO Now, a stand-alone subscription streaming video service that would be available exclusively on Apple products starting in early April. The $14.99 per month service will include full access to HBO TV shows as well as films available for viewing on its premium cable service. Subscribers will be able to view the programming on iPads, iPhones, and Apple TVs. HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler called the move a “transformative moment for HBO.”
The Congressional Budget Office released a forecast on Monday estimating that the Affordable Care Act would cost 11 percent less than previously expected. President Obama’s signature health-care law is now projected to cost $142 billion less that predicted in January, mainly due to a 20 percent decline in the expected cost of premium subsidies. The subsidy spending revisions were the result of “projections of slower growth in premiums and, to a lesser extent, slightly lower exchange enrollment,” according to the CBO.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday signed a law banning labor contracts requiring employees of private businesses to pay union dues. The so-called right to work law was backed by manufacturers, while organized labor fought it. Wisconsin is the 25th state to approve such a law. Walker, who is considered a potential GOP president candidate in 2016, said the legislation would be “one more big tool” to attract businesses to the state.
President Obama on Monday signed an executive order increasing sanctions on Venezuela over alleged human rights abuses. “We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents,” the White House said in a statement, calling for the country to respect rights such as freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly.” The move, which builds on the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, includes sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials.
A top University of Oklahoma football recruit, offensive tackle Jean Delance, reversed a decision to play for the Sooners on Monday. He cited “personal reasons,” but later acknowledged that the driving factor was a racist video in which members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chanted about lynching and said no black person would ever join the frat. Also on Monday, the school severed ties with the fraternity and shut it down, a day after the national fraternity closed the campus chapter.
At least 59 people were injured Monday when an Amtrak train slammed into a tractor-trailer that was stuck on the tracks in North Carolina. The truck driver, who had been trying to make a difficult left, jumped out before impact. The New York-bound train’s locomotive and baggage car derailed when the engine hit the truck’s oversized flatbed trailer, which was carrying a modular home. It was the third major train crash in less than two months, following deadly wrecks in New York and California.
Three French sports stars, including Olympic gold-medal-winning swimmer Camille Muffat, were among 10 people killed in a helicopter crash in Argentinaon Monday. Two other top French athletes — yachtswoman Florence Arthaud and Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine — were also among the dead. They were traveling with a TV production crew to shoot part the reality TV showDropped for French TV station TF1 when two helicopters collided. Both pilots and several members of the production company also died.
Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons, died Monday after battling colon cancer for more than two years. He was 59. Simon, who left The Simpsons in 1993 but remained an executive producer, was diagnosed in late 2012. Doctors told him then that he had three to six months to live. Simon decided to give away the bulk of his fortune, and, mostly through his Sam Simon Foundation, focused on feeding hungry families with vegan fare, and rescuing stray and abused dogs.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday said the U.S. could impose more sanctions on Russia should Moscow violate the latest truce in Ukraine and continue with its “land-grabbing” in the region. Though a delicate cease-fire aimed at ending the year-old conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists went into effect last weekend, both sides accused the other of continued aggressions. “If this failure continues, make no mistake there will be further consequences including consequences that will place added strains on Russia’s already troubled economy,” Kerry said.
The Turkish Army on Saturday rescued about 40 military guards from a shrine in northern Syria that had been encircled by ISIS. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said more than 500 troops, aided by tanks and armored vehicles, retrieved the soldiers from the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, which lies within Syria but is considered part of Turkey. Turkey also temporarily relocated the tomb’s remains to prevent ISIS from obtaining or desecrating them. “The ongoing conflict and state of chaos in Syria posed serious risks to safety and security of the tomb,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Making an unannounced visit to Kabul on Saturday, new Defense Secretary Ash Carter suggested that the United States’ troop withdrawal from Afghanistan may be slowed to ensure that “progress sticks” in the war-torn nation. “President Obama is considering a number of options to reinforce our support for President [Ashraf] Ghani’s security strategy, including possible changes to the timeline for our drawdown of U.S. troops,” Carter said. The current schedule would wind the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan down to about 5,000 by the end of 2015, with a target of lowering that to a “normal” troop presence at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R ) on Saturday declined to answer basic questions about President Obama’s faith and commitment to the nation. “I don’t know,” Walker said when The Washington Post asked him if the president is Christian. “I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that.” In a separate interview with The Associated Press, the prospective 2016 candidate also shrugged off a question about Rudy Giuliani’s claim Obama does not love America, saying, “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.” A Walker spokesperson later clarified the governor thinks Obama is indeed Christian, and that he was simply trying to avoid answering “gotcha questions.”
More than two dozen people died Sunday after a ferry carrying more than 100 passengers collided with a cargo ship on the Padma River. Early estimates put the death toll between 30 and 40, though that could change as rescue divers search for people trapped inside the submerged vessel.
Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh will miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season after developing blood clots in one of his lungs, the team announced Saturday. Bosh had been dealing with pain in his side for days before doctors discovered the clots, which can be fatal; former NBA player Jerome Kersey died Wednesday of a blood clot in his lung. “His health will be restored,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. “That’s the most important thing. That’s bigger than basketball.”
More than half of India’s population may be facing a shortened life expectancy due to filthy air, according to a study published Saturday in the journal Economic & Political Weekly. Using previous research on China’s air pollution, the study found that 660 million people were breathing in unsafe levels of fine particulate matter and losing at least 3.2 years of their lives as a result. “The extent of the problem is actually much larger than what we normally understand,” Anant Sudarshan, one of the study’s co-author’s and the India director of the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago, said.
Yet another weekend storm dumped snow, sleet and, and ice across the South and East from Saturday into Sunday. At least 21 people died in Tennessee from storm-related fatalities, including hypothermia, as Gov. Bill Haslam (R) upgraded the state of emergency there to Level 2. Further north, Washington, D.C., and New York City each saw about five inches of snow, while snowed-in Boston received about another inch of powder.
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch on Saturday lost the final appeal of his indefinite suspension from racing. NASCAR suspended Busch on Fridayafter a Delaware judge ruled he choked and beat his ex-girlfriend. The ruling means Busch will miss Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.
The 87th Academy Awards will be held tonight as Hollywood’s award season culminates with its most prestigious event. Birdman and Boyhoodare expected to take home the night’s top honors. Neil Patrick Harris will host the show for the first time.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said on Thursday he won’t comment on whether President Barack Obama “loves America,” but he’ll certainly tell you that he loves America.
CNBC’s Becky Quick asked Walker on Thursday morning to respond to a report that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) dissed the President at a private dinner, which the governor also attended.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said, as quoted by Politico. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
“The mayor can speak for himself,” Walker said on “Squawk Box.” “I’m not going to comment on what the President thinks or not. He can speak for himself as well.”
“I’ll tell you, I love America,” he continued. “There are plenty of people, Democrat, Republican, independent, and in between who love this country. I think we should talk about ways we love this country and that we feel passionately about America.”
Co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin wasn’t going to let Walker evade the question.
“But did you agree with those comments? Were you offended? What was your reaction when you heard them?” he pressed.
“I’m in New York. I’m used to people saying things that are aggressive out there,” the governor responded.
Co-host Joe Kernen then turned back to Sorkin, sparing Walker the pressure of the hot seat. Kernen asked Sorkin whether he thought America was exceptional, then chided him for answering that he’d “like to think America is exceptional” instead of simply stating “yes I think America is exceptional.”
“That might be one of the reasons certain people might think — you know, that may play into that perception,” Kernen said before throwing his hands up. “I’m not going to touch this hot potato either.”
That Scott Walker speech was great? It was shallow, tedious, and wrong. In other words, it struck the perfect chord for today’s GOP voters.
That Scott Walker speech was great? It was shallow, tedious, and wrong. In other words, it struck the perfect chord for today’s GOP voters.
Mitt Romney definitely had his down sides as a candidate: the retread factor, and,as I noted two weeks ago, the fact that he made all those dramatic and (apparently) wrong predictions about the future of the economy. But I will say this for him. He did pass the this-guy-looks-and-sounds-like-a-plausible-president test. I always thought that was his greatest strength. He’s central casting.None of these remaining people looks much like a president, with the exception of Jeb Bush; and more to the point, they don’t sound like presidents either. They sound like they’re running for RNC chairman at best, or more likely leader of the Tea Party caucus. So despite all this spin from conservatives about what a strong field this is, as usual the opposite is the truth. It’s an astonishingly weak field, unified not only in their opposition to Barack Obama and the federal government but also in their hostility to actual ideas that might stand a chance of addressing the country’s actual problems.
I’ve just been reading through their “books.” Yes, I know. You’re welcome. They’re ridiculous. I can’t say this with 100 percent certainty, but I may not have seen the word “wages” once. I certainly didn’t see a discussion of wage stagnation anywhere. That’s just one of a hundred examples I could cite.
It’s not so much that they come up short in terms of personal resumes. God knows, the current incumbent had a short one. Being a sitting or former governor, or a sitting senator—those are qualification enough. And I don’t doubt that they’re intelligent people.
But the problem in the first instance isn’t them. Let me put it this way. The greatest cardiologist in the world could move to town. But if everybody wants to eat chili-cheese fries all day and nobody wants to have bypass surgery, there’s still going to be a lot of heart disease.
You follow me? There could be a man in this presidential field who is the political equivalent of that cardiologist—Lincoln and TR and Reagan all rolled into one, with a little bit of Thatcher on the side and what the hell, a tiny dash of Clinton, just for crossover appeal. And it wouldn’t matter. He wouldn’t be able to demonstrate the breadth of his vision, because that isn’t what the GOP base of today wants.
I finally sat myself down and watched that Scott Walker speech from last week that everyone is raving about. If this was the standout speech, I sure made the right decision in not subjecting myself to the rest of them. It was little more than a series of red-meat appetizers and entrees: Wisconsin defunded Planned Parenthood, said no to Obamacare, passed some kind of law against “frivolous” lawsuits, and moved to crack down on voter “fraud””—all of that besides, of course, his big move, busting the public-employee unions. There wasn’t a single concrete idea about addressing any of the major problems the country faces.
Walker’s blandishments toward the base were bland enough to get under the skin even of James Pethokoukis, the conservative economics writer who laid into the Wisconsin Governor for one particular bit of surreality:
Opportunity is equal? The data, unfortunately, do not seem to support Walker’s optimistic claim. First, there are other countries, such as Sweden and Canada, where the chances of escaping the bottom are just as good as in the United States. Second, American mobility rates have been stagnant over the past 40 years. Third, mobility rates vary greatly by race with 74 percent of white sons making it out of the bottom fifth versus 49 percent of African-American sons. Fourth, even the smartest kids have only a 1-in-4 chance of making it from the bottom fifth to the top fifth.
That’s a conservative writer, remember. And he’s right, obviously. But try to imagine Walker or any GOP candidate acknowledging these complications. That opportunity is not equal in America! That Sweden and Canada are our equals! That it’s harder on black people! That candidate would be hooted out of Republican Party faster than you can say Charles Murray.
Walker, I see, has surged in a new Iowa poll, while the only one who at least looks like president, John Ellis Bush, has taken a tumble and is viewed more negatively by potential caucus-goers than he once was (46 favorable, 43 unfavorable). We can’t say for sure why Bush has fallen, but it seems clear that Walker has gained on the strength, so to speak, of his empty-calorie bromides.
He’s gained because those items— kicking Planned Parenthood, denying your own citizens subsidized health-care coverage, pretending that voter fraud is a thing—are what pass for ideas in today’s GOP. Walker is even more vacuous on foreign policy, as Martha Raddatz revealed yesterday, twisting him around like a pretzel with a couple of mildly tough questions on Syria. The Democratic Party has its problems, but at least Democrats are talking about middle-class wage stagnation, which is the country’s core economic quandary. Rick Santorum is, in fairness, but a) his solutions are the same ones conservatives have been advertising for years (lower taxes, less regulation, more two-parent families) and b) he’s not going anywhere in the polls so far, undoubtedly precisely because he’s trying to drop the homosexuality-is-bestiality shtick and talk about actual economic problems.
But you can’t really discuss economic problems as a Republican presidential candidate, because in the pond of voters where you’ll be fishing, “America” has no such problems. Some people—roughly 47 percent of them—have economic problems, but that’s all their fault, you see. So these candidates are about to spend a year pandering to that. That will make them weak in more ways than one.
The actual amount announced Monday at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton is $889 million, and that is what the Koch brothers’ political network (17 Koch-funded organizations) plans to spend buying the 2016 elections for corporate America and the 1 percent.
It is, as CNN informs us, “[M]ore money than any private network has ever spent on an election cycle.” It is also as much as either the Republicans or Democrats spend: Compare this to the $675 million spent by the Republican Party in 2012. And the Kochs can spend the money however they want, unlike the RNC.
How much money is that? With a budget of $20 per person you could feed nearly 50 million people better meals than most of them have ever had for one day.
The massive financial goal was revealed to donors during an annual winter meeting here hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the $407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were all on hand at the Koch’s retreat for seminars and strategy sessions, greedily rubbing their fingers in anticipation. Not coincidentally, Newsmax tells us that,
Most of the 450 who attended the weekend event weren’t interested in another Mitt Romney run. They leaned more toward Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
What we can take from Charles Koch’s welcome speechSaturday, is that the Big Lie is alive and well in the Koch family: “Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism,” he said. Of course, collectivism is not a threat and the Kochs are huge corporate welfare queens, more than happy to take our tax dollars from the federal government they excoriate.
Like his bought men, Walker, Rubio, Paul, and Cruz, Charles Koch is simply inventing threats out of whole cloth, and reassured guests and employees both,
But as many of you know, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it! In fact, the work never really ends. Because the struggle for freedom never ends.
He claimed that,
Much of our efforts to date have been largely defensive to slow down a government that continues to swell and become more intrusive – causing our culture to deteriorate. Making this vision a reality will require more than a financial commitment. It requires making it a central part of their lives.
So the Kochs are presenting themselves as defenders of American culture now. This, from a man so far removed from American culture he cannot begin to imagine an average American’s life. Yet he claims to be defending our culture. This is the point of Koch’s speech at which the Greek gods would begin casting lightning bolts, for hubris was always mankind’s greatest sin.
Just keep in mind, that freedom he is talking about is serfdom for you and me.
The impact of this amount of money cannot be ignored. As Ben Ray of American Bridge put it, “If they are spending more than the RNC, I know exactly who the (Republican) presidential candidates will listen to.”
And even Grover Norquist told The Washington Post that, “It’s not like a Chicago political boss where Charles would say, ‘We’re all for this guy.’ But if he said, ‘I really like this guy’ and did an op-ed, it would matter.”
Which means Mother Jones is not engaging in mere hyperbole when they say, “It’s official: The Kochs and their rich friends are the new third party.”
Democrats, who have neither a plethora of corporations nor a bevy of 1 percenters to fund their campaigns, will have to work a lot harder to find that kind of cash. Of course, Democrat money will reflect the views of actual Americans rather than the insatiable appetites of the 1 percent.
According to the Post, “The $889 million goal reflects the budget goals of all the allied groups that the network funds. Those resources will go into field operations, new technology and policy work, among other projects.”
The one thing a billion dollars can’t buy are a viable platform or likeable candidates. It remains to be seen whether it is enough to convince blacks, Latinos, women and others that the Republican Party actually cares about them.
But make no mistake: this represents a full-scale assault on American democracy. Ted Cruz was quoted as saying Sunday night that, “There are a bunch of Democrats who have taken as their talking points that the Koch brothers are the nexus of all evil in the world.” He said that thinking is “grotesque and offensive.”
While you have to respect Cruz’s loyalty to his owners, he is wrong. What is grotesque and offensive is what he and his fellow employees of Koch Industries have been up to at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton: plotting the murder of American democracy.
Defending his fellow Republican governors’ decision to block Medicaid expansion in their states, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Friday suggested that denying health coverage to additional low-income Americans helps more people “live the American Dream” because they won’t be “dependent on the American government.”
Walker has recently leveled some criticism at other GOP leaders for accepting Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, saying they shouldn’t necessarily trust the government to come through with the federal funds to cover the policy. During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, Walker was asked whether his position stemmed from an “ideological criticism,” and if he believes the handful of Republican governors implementing this provision of the health law are not “genuine conservatives.”
The governor didn’t explicitly answer that question, pointing out that every state has different needs. But he did offer a broader criticism of the public health program.
“Beyond that, I just ask the basic question: Why is more people on Medicaid a good thing?” he said. “I’d rather find a way, particularly for able-bodied adults without children, I’d like to find a way to get them into the workforce. I think ideologically, that’s a better approach, not just as a conservative, but as an American. Have more people live the American dream if they’re not dependent on the American government.”
In reality, however, the majority of people who stand to benefit from the Medicaid expansion are already in the workforce. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been closely tracking the policy effect of states’ decisions on this Obamacare provision, most of the people in this coverage gap are part of a demographic group known as the “working poor.” Two thirds of them are part of a family where someone is working, and more than half of them are working themselves — often in sectors like the agricultural and service industries, which have a history of failing to provide insurance benefits to their workers.
Last fall, the New York Times analyzed the data about the coverage gap and confirmed that the Americans being denied Medicaid are cashiers, cooks, nurses’ aides, waiters and waitresses, and janitors. Most of them are people of color, and many are single mothers. They don’t fit the conservative trope of the lazy individual who is overly dependent on the government programs — and, as the New York Times reported at the time, they are actually “the very kinds of people that the [Medicaid] program was intended to help.”
Although Walker has maintained his resistance to Obamacare’s traditional Medicaid expansion, there isn’t a coverage gap in his state. Even before the passage of the health reform law, Wisconsin had a generous Medicaid program that allowed people with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line to qualify. But the threshold varies for each state, and low-income people living in other places aren’t so lucky. In Louisiana and Texas, for instance, a family of three with an annual income over $5,000 makes too much money to receive any Medicaid assistance.