Another Data Point Musings on politics, economics, and political economy


Quick thoughts for later development

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:15 am
  • Would the American military obey Donald Trump?
    Seems to me that there might be actions ordered by Trump that the military would simply refuse to take. This, I believe, would be unprecedented and highly problematic, but then, so is Trump.
  • There are two ways to do a revolution:
    Sudden, violent overthrow of the government
    Slow, incremental change by the electoral process.
    Not in a single election, pace Bernie Sanders.


Trump and the GOP, Dallas and the NRA

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 3:02 pm

After the Newtown shootings, a British journalist was heard to observe that if the killing of children was tolerable, the gun debate in the U.S. was over.

That may have changed. The killing of 5 police officers in Dallas might finally galvanize public opinion on gun control in a way that nothing has — at least for 50 years.

Dallas, of course has a fraught history with firearms. Because Lee Harvey Oswald used a mail-order rifle to kill President Kennedy, the NRA supported both banning mail-order sales of rifles and the 1968 Gun Control Act.

An illuminating article in the Atlantic Monthly, “The Secret History of Guns,” notes that the Black Panthers’ exercise of  their right to bear arms is what led to the passage of the Mulford Act in California, which repealed a law allowing public carrying of loaded firearms.

But as Mike Weisser, AKA Mike the Gun Guy, observed in an interview with The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos, the spectacle of a white motorist being beaten in L.A. following the Rodney King verdict was a defining moment in the NRA’s campaign to use fear — and racial fear —  as a way to promote gun ownership.

[See The Second Amendment’s Second-Class Citizens]

Now a black gun owner professing to want to kill white police officers is implicated in the shooting of 12 Dallas cops, five fatally. It must finally appear to its members that the NRA has opened a Pandora’s Box in much the same way the the GOP’s messaging has ultimately led to the nomination of Donald Trump. Crazy talk leads to crazy actions.

One of the painful ironies is that the Dallas Police Department appears to be one of country’s most respectful and respected. (Listen to Rev. Michael Waters speak to NPR.) And as the Falcon Heights shooting suggests, the proliferation of guns in black communities is unnerving to police.

Another irony is that the extra-judicial killing of the Dallas suspect, Micah Xavier Johnson, will likely be viewed by many as further proof that black lives don’t matter to police. I’ll personally suspend judgment as to whether the robot-delivered bomb was the only solution to the standoff, but I’m sure others won’t.

The killings in Dallas are shocking and horrifying, but aren’t we all, somewhere deep inside, a little surprised that it didn’t happen sooner?

We can expect the killings by police and of police — and vastly more frequently of American citizens by other citizens — to continue until we recognize that the proliferation of instruments designed  to kill human beings — designed to kill human beings — is morally unacceptable, and must not only be halted, but reversed.

It won’t be easy, but the alternative is simply intolerable.


The shame of the GOP

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:57 am

Hearing Donald Trump’s ludicrous response to the mass murder in Orlando takes one’s breath away.

It’s not so much that Trump says what he says, but that, knowing he is capable of saying such things – can be expected to say such things – the GOP has embraced him as their candidate. Surely this is a party that has completely lost any claims to credibility.

Rather than pretending that the U.S. under President Obama has been working steadily and vigorously to defeated ISIS and other forms of Islamicist terror, Trump should be asking – as we all should – how is it that a person in the U.S. can legally obtain the capacity to kill 50 people.


Feeling the whinge

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:13 am

Bernie Sanders needs to do the right thing.

If he wants to continue to run, God bless him.

But if he wants to run on the trope that there’s no difference between Hillary Clinton and any of her possible GOP opponents, then he’s doing the country and his supporters a grave injustice.

As to his complaints about independents being unable to vote for him in New York, that’s really a self-indictment of his own incompetence. The rules were there for all to see; he should have warned his supporters months ago about the voting rules in New York. That his campaign failed to do so doesn’t speak to his ability to assemble a competent economic team, a competent foreign policy team, or a competent cabinet.

One has to wonder whether a President Sanders response to other unnoticed realities — in the Middle East, in Russia, or in Congress — would be more whining about fairness.

It’s no secret that this country has serious problems — and that the future of our youth is imperiled by the income inequality that Sanders has so effectively brought to the public conversation.

But Sanders had better let his youthful supporters know that he isn’t the only answer to their problems, that there are other people — lots of them — with opposing views that must be taken into consideration, and that politics is the art of dealmaking between opponents, or it’s about pure power, which history tells us always ends badly.


Dem bones, dem dry bones

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 10:04 pm

“I think what [Trump]’ll do to the Republican Party is really make us question who we are and what we’re about. And that’s something we don’t want to see happen.”

— Nikki Haley

It’s hard to think of a better summary of the ossification of the GOP’s intellectual foundations than this observation by the South Carolina governor.

The GOP has become the party of naked power. That’s the only way to make sense of the so-called policies they propose — destruction of the safety net, of the environment, the ludicrous denial of climate change, and the even more ludicrous defense of the proliferation of handguns and assault weapons in the hands of the untrained masses.

Of course they don’t want to engage in a little honest self-examination: They are intellectually – and to a large extent morally – bankrupt.

Who wants to see that in themselves?


Mitch McConnell’s new rules

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 1:15 pm

It’s understandable that Mitch McConnell doesn’t want Barack Obama to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice. I didn’t want Ronald Reagan to nominate Antonin Scalia, or George W. Bush to nominate Samuel Alito or John Roberts.

But that’s the way our government works, and any adult should be willing to live with that.

McConnell is no ordinary adult, however. He acts like spoiled child who thinks he gets to change the rules in the middle of the game if he doesn’t like the results.

We elect a president for four years, and President Obama would be guilty of dereliction of duty if he did not nominate a justice to replace Scalia. And the Senate would fail to do its constitutional duty if they did not confirm the appointment in due time.

While while we’re on the subject of rule changing, let’s briefly look at Paul Ryan’s wish for a “mandate” (JSOnline Jan. 23, 2016).  The GOP cannot have a mandate until they represent the majority of Americans, which, because of gerrymandering and voter suppression techniques like photo ID requirements, they may never do. Wisconsin offers the perfect example. In the 2012 election, Republicans won 47% of the popular vote, but 61% of the assembly seats. (See “Our Votes Don’t Matter.”)

Whatever you may think of the Republicans’ policy ideas, no lover of the American way of self-governance should tolerate the rule-bending and rule-breaking the GOP is conducting in our state and in our nation,


Tell Ron Johnson to do better on guns

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 10:48 am

Harry Reid made an effort bring some measure of sense to American gun policy. Ron Johnson voted to defeat that effort.

We need to tell Ron Johnson that he isn’t speaking for the people of Wisconsin on this issue.

Some points to make

  • There is no reason for the proliferation of weapons — handguns , assault weapons — that are designed to kill human beings.
  • It is fundamentally immoral to have weapons that are designed to kill human beings.
  • The American people want sensible gun control — the killers in San Bernadino bought their weapons legally.
  • There is nothing unconstitutional about regulating firearms — why else did the framers include “well-regulated militia” in the second amendment?

Contact Ron Johnson here


Connecting the dots in Planned Parenthood shooting

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 10:04 pm

I feel pretty comfortable drawing a straight line between the GOP and the terrible shooting at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

The GOP not only encourages — or at least makes common cause with — persons who view armed conflict as an acceptable form of social control in this country, but it has encouraged — or at least made common cause with — persons who characterize Planned Parenthood as an evil abortion mill.

Why should we be shocked that an armed, deranged person would stage a murderous attack on an organization that has been calumnized by the GOP and its fellow travelers.

This is not that last episode of this kind.


Conceding to Daesh

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:31 pm

The response of the Republican presidential candidates to the horror in Paris is nothing less than capitulation.

The aim of the mad killers was to strike fear into the hearts of their targets. At least within the GOP, they seem to have achieved their aim.

The ludicrous bill passed by the the GOP-controlled House of Representatives (thank you, Paul Ryan), and the equally ludicrous proposals by Rubio, Bush, and the rest, seem to be the products of minds so blinded by fear as to be incapable of strategic thought.

One can’t be certain whether these people believe in their proposals, or are simply trying to stir up enthusiasm in their supporters, but either way, it’s a sorry spectacle to see in a country that considers itself the greatest democracy in the world.



Prolegomenon to a Critique of Pure Walker

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:31 am

There is much to disdain about Scott Walker’s politics and policy — well, his policy is all about politics — but I think it’s worth considering the foundation of his political thought as a correctve to both his political futures and the dismal trajectory of the country since modern conservatism has established itself.

This means a critique of Reaganism.

There can be little doubt that Walker conceives himself as a successor of Reagan, and indeed his program seems to echo Reagan’s presidency. Consider Act 10 as a repeat of the Air Traffic Controller strike. Consider Reagan’s disastrous tax cuts as a model for Walker’s damaging tax policies.

Now consider the “revolution” begun by Reagan as the beginning of the decline of America’s middle class.

I suspect that Reagan, for all his seriously poor policy ideas, was not as cynical or deceitful as Walker. But there can be little doubt that he made many people comfortable with  those poor ideas. To make those ideas uncomfortable again is a key to delivering a body blow to Walker’s political ambitions.



No ideas in Wisconsin

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 1:03 pm

Much is being made of the cuts being proposed to the state budget, and people are doing an excellent job documenting the harm that would result from cuts to

  • K-12 Education
  • the UW System
  • Family care plans
  • The environment

and more.

Similarly, we have seen the outcomes of four years of Republican”stewardship” of the state economy.

  • Slow economic growth
  • Slow job growth
  • Extreme stress to our K-12 education

While these particulars are important to examine, I’d like to spend a moment on a systemic problem, which I’ll call ideology over ideas.

Specifically, it occurs to me that much of what’s being done is being done without anticipating and evaluating the consequences.  For example, the proposal to convert the UW System to a Public Authority  — by July 1 — shows no inkling that there’s an actual plan for how this might be done in an orderly way. In fact, all evidence shows that such a dramatic change in a short period would lead to chaos.

Similarly, the rejection of federal funds for

  • High-speed rail
  • Rural internet
  • healthcare exchange

have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars that could have stimulated our economy, strengthened our infrastructure and ameliorated our budgetary problems.

Another example: Our department of transportation seems seems to be stuck in a 20th century model of pouring concrete to solve our transportation problems — of moving cars, not bodies. And we want to borrow billions for this?

It’s small wonder wonder we have budgetary problems, a weak economy, and lag behind neighboring states that take a more evidence-based view of policy.

I would only add that packing all these policy changes into the budget makes it difficult for the citizens of the state to be aware of, much less weigh in on, the impacts on their lives. A cynic might say this is a deliberate attempt to serve the few at the expense of the many.


This cracks me up

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:32 am

It’s wicked,but I had to share


Right to the bottom

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:52 am

Following is a letter I wrote to my state representative, Rob Hutton. I encourage you to write to your state representatives to oppose so-called “right to work” legislation.

Rep. Hutton,

I am writing to you in opposition to the proposed legislation limiting union agreements in Wisconsin. It’s being touted as “right-to-work,” but I view it as “free-rider,” giving workers benefits they haven’t worked for.

While I’m mindful of the political benefits that might accrue to supporters of the legislation, as policy,  it is damaging to our state’s workers and economy.

Our state’s economy is already lagging behind our neighbors’ because of policies that serve ideological views, not economic realities.

Economists have shown:

  • “Free-rider” laws have no impact in boosting economic growth: research shows that there is no relationship between right-to-work laws and state unemployment rates, state per capita income, or state job growth.
  • “Free-rider” laws have no significant impact on attracting employers to a particular state; surveys of employers show that “right to work” is a minor or non-existent factor in location decisions, and that higher-wage, hi-tech firms in particular generally prefer free-bargaining states.
  • “Free-rider” laws lower wages—for both union and nonunion workers alike—by an average of $1,500 per year, after accounting for the cost of living in each state.
  • “Free-rider” laws also decrease the likelihood that employees get either health insurance or pensions through their jobs—again, for both union and nonunion workers.
  • By cutting wages, “Free-rider” laws threaten to undermine job growth by reducing the discretionary income people have to spend in the local retail, real estate, construction, and service industries. Every $1 million in wage cuts translates into an additional six jobs lost in the economy.

Lower wages, decreased demand for businesses’ products and services, less health care. These are not things Wisconsin needs today or for the future.

I believe that the intent to “fast-track” this legislation is tantamount to an admission that proper scrutiny of the legislation will reveal its unacceptably harmful effects. That alone should suggest to you that this is bad policy and bad governmental practice.

Opposition to this legislation will best serve the interests of your constituents and the state as a whole.

Thank you.

Greg Walz-Chojnacki
8007 Portland Ave.
Wauwatosa, WI 53213


Doomed to repeat history?

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:26 am

“We are now facing a cut that will absolutely savage the infrastructure and quality of teaching and research to this university,” said John Sharpless, a Republican who is a history professor at the Madison campus. “What would be a shame for us in Wisconsin is if Scott leaves a wake of damage here on his way to the presidency.”

It would seem that Prof. Sharpless is a historian of ancient times. If he’d been paying attention to recent history, he’d know that Scott Walker always leaves a wake of damage.


If it ain’t broke…

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:11 pm

We’re all familiar with the expression, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It seems that Wisconsin’s government is controlled by people who have such ideological disdain for any public institutions that their approach is, “If it ain’t broke, break it.”

K-12 education? Break it.

Fair electoral system? Break it.

Supreme Court? Break it.

Wisconsin Retirement System? Break it. (You heard it here first.)

You couldn’t imagine a better example of this “philosophy” than the unprecedented damage Scott Walker proposes to inflict on the University of Wisconsin System.

We’re talking about an institution that is admired around the world. Obviously, much of the admiration is directed at the oldest campus, Madison, but the entire system offers first-class  — and often world-class — education to Wisconsin citizens at some of the lowest costs available in the nation.

This is an institution that doesn’t need repair.

Aside from ideological disdain for public institutions, there are two other reasons for this proposal:

  1. Tax cuts and refusals to take federal funds have combined to create a massive deficit, in large part because the tax cuts were a double-whammy: They directly reduced revenue to the state, and rather than enhancing the economy, they created anti-stimulus, dampening economic activity and further reducing revenues. Republican fiscal policy has ill served this state’s economy.
  2. Scott Walker can’t take responsible action to fix the deficit, because responsible solutions aren’t part of the extreme right-wing ideology on which he hopes to float his presidential aspirations.

Speaking of those aspirations, it’s clear that Walker is ready to sacrifice one of this state’s greatest legacies for the sake of his personal ambition. So yes, there are potential benefits to this proposal, but they are for Scott Walker, who wants to leave this state, not improve it.

Scott Walker’s proposal was not formulated to benefit the State of Wisconsin or its truly great public university system. It is designed to win the support of people who imagine that any public activity is a threat to their private interests — especially if it’s successful.

People who believe “if it ain’t broke, break it.”




President Walker?

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:58 am

In today’s Journal Sentinel, Christian Schneider claimed that “liberals can’t fathom the idea that Walker could be a national candidate.”

I’m afraid Schneider is projecting his shallowness. We may have high principals and ideals but we’re not delusional.

  • Liberals have seen the election and re-election of a president who initiated the decline of the American middle class, Ronald Reagan
  • Liberals have seen the election and re-election of a president who made Americans culpable for the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and who made us a nation of torturers, George W. Bush.

Other Americans saw this too, but perhaps haven’t yet appreciated  the enormity of those elections. But those of us who have, realize that a Walker presidency would mean further degradation of the principals of justice and fairness that had made the United States a beacon to the world.

So, we liberals don’t find the notion of a President Scott Walker unfathomable.

We find it appalling.


Reaping the whirlwind

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 1:04 pm

I was saddened by the murders of two New York City police officers last week. While there’s much still to be learned about this event, it appears that the killer, though apparently deranged, was also motivated by a particular anger at police.

With the recent rash of publicized killings of black men by on-duty police, it’s hard not to worry that this terrible act will be repeated. Given the ridiculous availability of assault-style weapons & by which I mean firearms designed to kill humans in multiples & and the multitude of examples of persons and groups using violence as an alternative to (failed) political processes, I worry that there are people planning to conduct similar ambushes.

And the potential for political violence obviously extends beyond our inner cities. We have a class of media hate- and fear-mongers — and I see them particularly on the right & who are vigorously peddling fear and hatred of our own government.

The ordinary citizens who see themselves as represented by the Tea Party & as distinct from the Astro Turf Tea Party & are right to be angry: Their real income has declined, along with the economic prospects of their children.

But, as I’ve been saying for years, they are angry at the wrong people. Their real enemy are the oligarchs who have been amassing political and economic power since the time of Ronald Reagan, and the expense of most Americans.

My fear is that when these folks realize they’ve been played, their anger will increase exponentially & and they have guns, lots of guns.

Between the GOP degrading our electoral processes and the right-wing’s drumbeat of attacks on government, the extreme right wing is playing a dangerous game.


Rights for citizens

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:46 am

I’ve said this before in a different context, but while I’m very happy for the couples who can marry because of the Supreme Court’s refusal to overrule the lower court in the matter of the constitutionality of state same-sex marriage bans, I remain disappointed that the people of Wisconsin haven’t spoken up for themselves in this matter.

I hope someday soon that’s rectified.


The Big Lie(s)

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:11 pm

Uppity Wisconsin said it well yesterday, but they kind of buried it:

Walker, like so many — “conservatives” doesn’t seem to quite cover it — have been amazingly successful at tearing down their opponents with attacks designed to turn the opponents strengths into weaknesses.

The classic case is the “Swift-Boating” of John Kerry by people in service to an administration of draft dodgers.

Now we have Walker attacking Mary Burke by vilifying Trek for not paying income tax and for outsourcing.

While presumably this is something he’d applaud in other businesses, Walker needs to attack Mary Burke’s obvious strengths of competency and business acumen.

It was refreshing to see the normally supine Milwaukee Journal Sentinel give considerable space to a clarification of Burke’s and Trek’s record. Sadly he hasn’t received a “pants-on-fire” rating.

I don’t have an obvious answer to this stratagem, and I suppose if it were obvious, the body politic would have been inoculated against it some time ago.

But we’d all to well to anticipate its use against any progressive candidate we support. The key thing is that it is hard to imagine a bald-faced lie about our candidates’ strengths, but, given the current state of political reportage in this state and country, it’s likely to happen, and the lie told gets more attention an has a bigger impression that the refutation. We need to train ourselves to imagine what we are

Sick of Government? Vote!

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 2:11 pm

A lot of people, I fear, are inclined to stay home at election time because they are discontented with the way  government is operating, particularly at the Congressional level.

Not to be harsh, but one reason government is so dysfunctional is that too many people stayed at home at election time in November 2010.

A couple of important consequences of that, in Wisconsin and many other states, are:

  1. our legislature is dominated by ALEC toadies, who
  2. redrew the district voters in such a way that the majority is represented by minority elected officials. That is, while Democrats won the popular vote in Wisconsin, our congressional delegation is 5-3 Republican.

So we have a government that is unresponsive to majority rule, and has less and less incentive to strive for compromise policy. Consequently we frequently have NO policy.

The more people vote, the better government is. Period.


Plan To VOTE!!!

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