Monday, February 21, 2011

Paul Krugman Explains Why It's About More Than The Unions

A must read.

Oil and Water

I'm not sure that knitting and politics mix any better. So for the time being, I will mostly be blogging at Like A Tree That's Standing By the Water. If I have knitting updates, they will stay here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Need. To. Knit.

Need to lower blood pressure. I want to be in Madison. But freezing rain is falling and I don't trust the road conditions. Also, Mr. S. is sick -was up all night with gastrointestinal unpleasantness I won't detail here.

So I'll cast on for the second sock to go with this one. Haven't decided yet what kind of heel I want to use.

An article that gets the facts straight

From AlterNet


If anyone still has any doubt about the true motivation for Gov. Walker's "budget reform" bill, I refer you to that radical left-wing publication, Forbes.


Let's be perfectly clear, this is not about balancing the budget. That could be done with the concessions that WEAC and AFSCME have already offered to the Governor in exchange for retaining collective bargaining rights. He has refused to even consider this.

Also keep in mind that this discussion is not around the Governor's proposed budget package. He has not proposed one yet. This is just an attempt to clear the way for whatever it is that he does intend to propose. Not details have been released. In fact when "The Bill" did not pass last week, he pushed back the date for presenting his budget. It's all been quite secretive, though the figure of a $500 per child reduction in funding for local schools has been thrown out as in the mix.

If his plan at this point is to (among other things) force significant staff layoffs in larger districts and push smaller districts into bankruptcy, he looks to be right on track for achieving his goals.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

On Wisconsin

I wouldn't normally link to an article from "Time", but, yeah, the video embedded in this one is worth it. It really is like that.

If The Weather Reports are Right

we won't be seeing this for a while after tonight.

Snow and (ugh!) freezing rain on their way.

Quiet day for me today: work at the library in the morning and spent the afternoon pretty much following the action in Madison online. (Jealous of Mr. S., he left early this morning and is only now on his way home).

From all I can gather, the counter protest by the Tea Party was relatively small (left before their stated ending time of 3:00), and while there were a few verbal disputes between the two groups, nothing serious. The national television news folks (especially FOX) will probably try to spin this as some major clash of equal opposing forces. It was not.*

Apparently one pro-Walker sign said "I'm here on the weekend because I went to work on Friday." Of course, the same thing is true of my teacher spouse. And I wanted to tell him "I was there on Friday because I went to work today. Same thing for the firefighter standing next to me." I honestly don't think these people know who fought to get them a weekend. It sure wasn't the corporations.

*At around 3:30 a reporter from News3 in Madison tweeted that official estimates say at the height of the event there were around 3.500 pro-Walker (Tea Party) folks were there, and 55,000-60,000 protesters. Which means that definitely more protesters were involved in total, because I know from my two experiences so far people come and go during the day and evening if they cannot be there the whole time.

And Speaking of the Department of Health Services

Seems like they just gave Deloitte Consulting a new eight year contract with a jump in the hourly rate from $92 to $104. Bottom line: $30 million a year (in taxpayer dollars) for work outsourced to India. Really good for Wisconsin jobs-not. If they can do this kind of thing even before "The Bill" passes, imagine what they could do with it.

Full story at The Wisconsin State Journal. Hat tip to Uppity Wisconsin.

"The Bill" is bad for a lot of things

Despite the focus in the protests and the press, it's not just about employee relations.

State Representative Sandy Pasch explains in an article on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website. Here's an excerpt. The link will take you to the whole article.

"...there is a relatively little-known proposal in the same bill that could have severe consequences for our state's medical assistance programs.

This provision would give the Walker administration carte blanche authority to make far-reaching changes within vital health programs - including the spectrum of BadgerCare plans, Family Care and SeniorCare - with only minimal review by the Republican-controlled budget committee.

Among other things, the secretary of the Department of Health Services - under the direction of Walker - would have unilateral authority to modify benefit levels, reduce income levels for purposes of determining eligibility and authorize providers to deny care or services if a program benefit recipient is unable to share costs.

DHS would be authorized to sidestep current law requirements for the promulgation of emergency rules, which require a showing that the rule is immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, safety or welfare to implement these changes. Emergency rules do not require notice, hearing and publication requirements applicable to ordinary rules. In addition, DHS would be authorized to extend these changes indefinitely. Under current law, emergency rules can only be in effect for 150 days. Extensions of emergency rules under current law cannot exceed an additional 120 days."

In other words, if you live in Wisconsin and have a child with autism*, a parent in a nursing home, a sister or brother with a disability who is now able to live independently but could not do so without the support of a home care worker...well, if this bill passes it's likely that their lives, and probably your life, are going to get more difficult, much more difficult, soon.

*For more specifics on how this bill could affect therapy options for children with autism, please read the posts at Elvis Sightings.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Some More Information on Walker's Agenda

From Think Progress

They still aren't answering the phones

at my state Senator's office, so I decided to drive on up to Madison to see it I could deliver my message in person. He's a Republican, so presumably he's still in the state.

It was pretty crowded inside the capitol when I arrived, but good spirits, very positive. It was loud in the rotunda, in a good way. Despite anything you may have seen about the crowds being unruly, this isn't the case. People made way for one another, parents had kids there. It was all very positive. The police had certain areas closed off and nobody challenged them about it.

I decided not to try to find Senator Shultz's office, so just joined in a couple of chants. If he was actually in his office he should have been able to hear them from there.
Went outside and walked around the capitol square a few times and enjoyed the growing company of folks. It was a beautiful sunny day, though the breeze was a bit brisk on the lake side. Stood next to some good firefighters during the noon rally, then headed on home.
If anyone wants more background on what's happening here, Talking Points Memo has had some decent coverage. (I linked to just one of their stories. There are others as well.)
Apparently the Tea Party folks are sending in a group to "counter protest" tomorrow. I just hope that they aren't able to provoke the kind of unpleasant confrontation they are undoubtedly looking for. I'll say this again from my own experience, so far the protesters have been determined but entirely peaceful.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Where in the World is My State Senator?

Wisconsin is going through a challenging time, and I wanted to phone my State Senator to let him know where I stand on some of the current issues. After several (more than 10, more than 20) attempts it became clear that he had shut down his office phones, or rather, let the voicemail fill up and had his staff stop answering. So not only could you not speak to anyone in the office, you could not even leave a message. Pretty sneaky. He'll be able to claim, if he likes, that his constituents weren't that concerned - that he didn't really hear from that many of them. Nice example of representative government, huh?

The last email I tried to send bounced back. So last night I typed up a letter and this morning I'll put it in the snail mail. Though at this point I wouldn't be surprised if his staff is just tossing constituent letters into the trash unopened.

Wisconsin Senator Dale Schultz: I think this is a pretty shabby way to treat the people you are supposed to serve.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I haven't really dropped off the face of the Earth

I just spent several days in Illinois, helping out while my brother was in the hospital. He's had a very nasty infection, will be on antibiotics for quite a while, but is doing much better. I'm back home getting ready to charge into a busy week here.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Done and Drying

I had been putting off working the second thumb, because staying in pattern was rather fiddly.
But today I took the bit in my teeth, finished the thumb, wove in ends, washed and laid out to dry. I'll be mailing these north to our good daughter, who is back in school up at Steven's Point.

The other project I've been working on is also fairly small scale. I won't show it yet as it's a Valentine's gift for my sweetie (and I'd better get cracking - not that much time left).

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Perfect Wave

It was really a shame to destroy this; but, alas, I had to get to work.

Behind the car there was a drift up to the top of the back bumper, but it was just plain, nothing to regret moving.

And where Mr S. is standing, there were two ridges (thrown up by the snowplows) that were as high as the top of his hips. Fortunately it was all pretty dry powdery stuff, not heavy and wet. Between the two of us we had the driveway cleared in about 40 minutes.