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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
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A fundamental question in UW debate: Will it be pursuit of knowledge or simply employable skills?


The concrete meaning of a $300 million cut is not easy to comprehend, especially since it follows $452 million in separate cuts since Walker was elected. According to UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, shutting down the schools of law, business, nursing, pharmacy and veterinary medicine combined would not cover her campus's share of the cut. Nor would laying off a third of the faculty. Nor would laying off more than 1,000 staff. The cut is timed to coincide with a tuition freeze, so the university cannot make up the lost revenue. No suddenly discovered efficiencies, limited autonomies granted to the Board of Regents or faculty "doing more work" (as Walker urges) will offset a gap of this magnitude. The consequences are as obvious as they are inevitable: mass layoffs, closing campuses or both.

Since this proposal was announced last week, my colleagues and I have puzzled over Walker's motivations. But the broader picture came into focus with the bombshell disclosure that either he or his staff sought to rewrite the university's statutory mission, deleting "to serve and stimulate society," "public service," "improve the human condition" and "the search for truth," replacing this language with, "meet the state's workforce needs." The outrage was so intense that he quickly promised to withdraw the wording change. Nevertheless, it all makes sense now.

Walker's ambition is to convert the University of Wisconsin into an enormous technical college. His goals are not to pursue knowledge and serve the broader public interest, but to supply employers with job candidates. Crank students through vocational training, and don't bother with holistic cognitive development. Elite faculty with their prestigious research grants and top-tier doctoral students with their cutting-edge dissertations are in the way of dramatically expanding trade-school style narrow job training. Diminish the university enough, and most of them will leave. Let somebody else worry about scientific breakthroughs and humanistic innovation. We need to do what employers want — and nothing more. The deeper ideology here mistakenly equates business interest with the public interest.

Walker is woefully misguided. The accumulated wisdom from generations of universities, in part, is that it is precisely the drive to expand human knowledge that generates the skills most useful in the widest variety of jobs. It is largely university-led innovation today that creates the industries of tomorrow. Converting the university into a vocational school would devastate the state's long-term economic viability, to say nothing of nonfinancial quality of life. Could attacking universities be the next frontier in the assault on the public sector?

Turns out Walker has been cooking the University's books for a while now ....


One of the more interesting things I found was that in 2010-11 all Federal Direct Loans started to be passed through the UW System budget. This resulted in an additional ~$700 million/yr being added to the System budget, giving the appearance of a large increase in both funding and spending, when it was really just a change in how this money was counted. (So, while the 2014-15 total UW System budget is ~$6.1B, it must be adjusted to ~$5.4B if we’re going to make meaningful comparisons with the Doyle years.) In my spreadsheet I back these Direct Loan dollars out of the budget so it is more of an apples-to-apples comparison with earlier years.

It’s also interesting to note that debt service has gone from a little under 3% of the total system budget under Doyle to over 4.5% now under Governor Fiscally Responsible.

The Progressive: As Oscars Near, 'American Sniper' Draws Protest


This year’s Academy Award race for Best Picture is a classic Hollywood Left vs. Right contest, pitting a biopic about an American marksman against Selma, a film depicting Martin Luther King Jr.––an apostle of peace who was actually assassinated by an American sniper.

The pacifist organization CODEPINK took aim at American Sniper, protesting what’s being ballyhooed as the highest grossing U.S. war movie ever made, at a February 2 Directors Guild of America screening attended by director/producer Clint Eastwood and star/producer Bradley Cooper. Sniper, which has grossed more than $282 million in ticket sales, is an adaptation of Chris Kyle’s American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History about the “legendary” Navy SEAL who shot 160-plus Iraqis; CODEPINK denounced the film as militaristic propaganda.

“It’s important for people of conscience to be critical of the ways Hollywood perpetuates war and racism, quite frankly, through film. . . which influences and reflects society,” said Sophia Armen, L.A. campaigner for CODEPINK Women for Peace.

The antiwar group identified American Sniper as “ahistorical and a narrative really quite similar, actually, to the narrative we were all too familiar with during the Bush era. . . The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan really terrorized, more than stopped terror. The film completely absolves the U.S. of its many crimes in Iraq and perpetuates the American war mongering narrative. . . that’s really rooted in anti-Arab racism, which is quite apparent in the film,” stated Armen, a U.S.-born twenty-three-year-old of Armenian ancestry who participated in the demonstration on the Sunset Strip in front of the headquarters of the DGA, the trade association that represents movie and television directors.

Thank you Code Pink.

Janet Planet


Jazziz Magazine hailed her as a “Voice of the New Jazz Culture…amazingly powerful voice with seemingly limitless expression”. In her career, Ms. Planet has performed with legends such as Jackie and Roy, George Benson, and her mentor Nancy King, and shared the stage with many other accomplished jazz artists including Ellis Marsalis, John Harmon, Gene Bertoncini, and Marian McPartland. Janet is also on the staff of the Tritone Jazz Camp and teaches voice privately as well as conducting clinics.

Planet frequently shares with students and others her knowledge of vocal technique, jazz history, performance careers, and the music business, bringing to this experience her perspectives as a woman and artist. A busy concert schedule has taken her to performing arts centers, opera houses, colleges, universities, jazz festivals and jazz clubs across the USA and internationally, with appearances in Europe and Japan where she co-founded the First Fraternity of Musicians in the city of Nagasaki in 2000.

Janet Planet has been paying her dues and studying the craft of singing for over two decades, steadily building a career that began with a high school talent show performance. Her 1985 Seabreeze release, “Sweet Thunder” brought Janet to the attention of Steve Allen who wrote, “There are so many dumb and inarticulate singers today and it’s a pleasure to hear someone who knows what singing is all about”. As the past century closed and a new one began, music critics have noted her arrival as an accomplished artist.

While technique sometimes gets in the way of creative jazz singing, Planet employs her faultless technique to the service of phrase and text. Words count, and are never shorted, her clear but easy diction exploring surfaces and recesses alike. Her ability to support the tone and sustain a long line, tells time after time. And, in every ballad and every samba, the sheer beauty of her tone takes her performance to a level of its own. Still, she can brandish heat and steel, she brings a special insight and affection to every song. “Janet Planet is now almost certainly the best of today’s jazz singers, but even more, she’d earn a high standing in any age.” said Erik Eriksson.

It's not Scott Walker's fault ...

It's not Scott Walker's fault he needs to win the votes of people who want to be lied to about evolution.

BREAKING: House GOP passes Keystone XL pipeline bill, including requirement that Obama apologize to Koch brothers for taking so long.

Jon Stewart to leave Daily Show, run for governor of New Jersey against Chris Christie on platform of not being a petty, spiteful ass.

Next up on Fox News: 3 Muslims shot at Chapel Hill. Sean Hannity defends the shooter.


Fond du Lac (Wisconsin) Nuns Get Northrop Grumman to Dump ALEC

No word on why The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes originally invested in the Military Industrial Complex, but ...


Defense contractor Northrop Grumman has ended its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), thanks to shareholder engagement from the Fond du Lac, Wisconsin-based Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes.

“As a major defense contractor it is significant that the company follow the lead of many major corporations that have left ALEC in recent months,” said Sister Sally Ann Brickner, who manages the Congregation’s Socially Responsible Investment Portfolio. The Catholic organization is a Northrop Grumman shareholder and filed a resolution asking the company to review its affiliation with ALEC and other lobbying organizations, which the sisters say prompted the company to leave ALEC.

Notably, at ALEC's meeting in Washington, D.C. last month, ALEC held a workshop warning that the forms of shareholder engagement practiced by the Fond du Lac nuns "threatens corporate free speech."

Emphasis mine.

John Doe: "Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."


For over two years, Republican and Democratic prosecutors in Wisconsin have been part of a criminal investigation into whether Governor Walker’s campaign coordinated with “independent” electoral groups, particularly Wisconsin Club for Growth, which spent $9.1 million on the recall elections and funneled millions more to other groups. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Board also supported the investigation, with Board Chair Gerald Nichol--a former Republican elected official--recently noting the Board was presented with "credible, hard evidence" the law had been violated. The probe is conducted under Wisconsin's "John Doe" procedures, which is like a grand jury but conducted in front of a judge.

Judge Clevert's decision blocking the enforcement of some Wisconsin limits on independent political spending was not related to the Walker investigation, but instead came in the context of a separate challenge to Wisconsin campaign finance laws. Critics of the Walker probe claimed that Clevert's ruling had the effect of upending the John Doe prosecutors' legal theory, thereby prohibiting the investigation from continuing even if the Wisconsin Supreme Court gives it the greenlight.

But these claims are erroneous. Wisconsin law is in the same state that it has been since May of 2014, when a decision from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down those same Wisconsin limits on independent political spending. That decision, referred to as Barland II and authored by Judge Diane Sykes, left intact the rules that apply to candidates and campaign contributions--including the coordinated expenditures at issue in the John Doe investigation, which are not "independent" and instead considered in-kind campaign contributions.

Judge Clevert's January 30, 2015 order was essentially a formality, codifying at the district court level what had already been decided by the 7th Circuit appellate court in Barland II. This is important because Barland II had been decided several months before a different 7th Circuit panel, in a decision authored by Judge Frank Easterbrook, rejected claims from Wisconsin Club for Growth that the investigation relied on an unconstitutional interpretation of campaign finance law. That ruling reversed an earlier decision from district court Judge Rudolph Randa halting the probe.

Walker turns down Menominee tribe's $220M offer, still plans to screw the University system

As posted here by riversedge yesterday, Monominee tribe offered the state $220 million to fund a new basketball arena, proposing the taxpayer dollars should be used for the University system instead. The offer was contingent on Walker approving a new casino in Kenosha, where it would attract gamblers from Illinois.



The Menominee tribe made a similar offer during negotiations with the state in October, according to a copy of the confidential proposal. At that time, the tribe offered to pay the state 2.5% of the casino's net win for 10 years, with that money going into a trust to help pay the cost of the arena.


The $220 million offer made Tuesday could actually be larger, Besaw and Allen said. The money would be paid out over a 25-year period and could be valued at as much as $300 million.


Walker has proposed using $220 million in state appropriation bonds toward the new arena. The $220 million in bonds that Walker is proposing to issue would ultimately cost at least $380 million when accounting for interest, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.


Walker rejected the casino plan on Jan. 23, the day before he visited Iowa in a run-up to his expected presidential run. Conservatives there had urged him to reject the project.

Those who have watched Walker will not be surprised to learn that the beneficiary of all these taxpayer dollars is a slumlord...


A community organization called Common Ground has accused the co-owner of Milwaukee Bucks of being a slumlord of properties. They say they will fight the plans of state to fund the new arena of the company in Milwaukee.

Governor Scott Walker had proposed that state should contribute $220 million in bond to help for the new arena of Bucks. But the activist are not happy about that. They booed Wes Edens, co-owner of the company and called him a slumlord. This happened near 44th and Wright streets of Milwaukee.

Lloyd Johnson of Common Ground said that the house Eden owns is falling apart, no one is paying property taxes. The property has 23 outstanding code violations. HE said we will make sure that our public money does not go to slumlord who leave such junk in the neighbourhood. The house Johnson was talking about is owned by Wes Edens’ Nationstar Mortgage Co. Activist say that Nationstar owns more properties like this.

Another member of Common Ground, Jennifer O’Hear said that there are broken windows with jagged glass, the sidewalks are unsafe and unshoveled. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable. Common Ground activist say that they want a meeting with Edens to talk about these properties.

Absalom Jones


Absalom Jones (1746 – February 13, 1818) was an African-American abolitionist and clergyman. After founding a black congregation in 1794, he was the first African American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States, in 1804. He is listed on the Episcopal calendar of saints and blessed under the date of his death, February 13, in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as "Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818".

Jones was born into slavery in Sussex County, Delaware in 1746. When he was sixteen, he was sold to a storeowner in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the store's clerks taught him to write. While still a slave of Mr. Wynkoop, he married Mary King (slave to S. King who was a neighbor to the Wynkoops), on January 4, 1770. Mr. Duché performed the wedding ceremony. By 1778 Jones had purchased his wife's freedom so that their children would be free; creating an appeal for donations and loans, in another seven years he was able to purchase his own.[1]


After becoming the first slave raised to priesthood, and as the Constitution's deadline for abolition of the slave trade passed, Jones took part of the first group of African Americans to petition the U.S. Congress. Their petition related to the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act, which they criticized for encouraging cruelty and brutality, as well as supporting continuing criminal practice of kidnapping free blacks and selling them into slavery. Rev. Jones used moral suasion:, trying to convince whites that slavery was immoral, offensive to God, and contrary to the nation's deal.[6] Although U.S. Representative George Thatcher of Massachusetts attempted to amend the Fugitive Slave Act accordingly, he was unable to convince colleagues to pass those necessary amendments.[citation needed]


Yellow fever repeatedly struck Philadelphia in the 1790s, until sanitary improvements suggested by Dr. Benjamin Rush were completed. In the meantime, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones assisted Rush in helping people afflicted by the plague, for black people initially were rumored to be immune, and many whites (including most doctors except for Rush and his assistants, some of whom died) simply fled the city. Allen and Jones' corps of black Philadelphians helped nurse the sick, as well as bury the dead. Jones in particular sometimes worked through the night, although their later reliance on bleeding as a medical treatment proved to be misplaced. Almost twenty times more black people helped the plague-struck than did whites, which later proved crucial in gaining the new black congregations social acceptance.[7]

U of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank appeals to alums

This message was sent to UW-Madison alumni in Wisconsin by WAA on behalf of Chancellor Blank on Thursday, February 5, 2015.

Dear University of Wisconsin–Madison alum,

As you may know, the university is facing a significant budget cut in the next two years. I am writing to ask for your help in communicating to state policymakers the importance of maintaining an affordable and world-class university.

Governor Scott Walker has proposed cutting the University of Wisconsin System by $300 million over the next two years to help fill a state budget deficit. UW–Madison’s share of that cut is expected to be $57 million per year. This is on top of the $23 million reduction the campus received in the budget passed by the Legislature two years ago. Together with other cuts included in the governor’s budget, UW–Madison is likely to face at least an $86 million budget hole next year if the proposal is enacted.

If the full amount of Governor Walker’s proposed $300 million cut is implemented, it will be the largest cut to the UW in state history. It will diminish our ability to provide our students with a quality education; it will hinder our ability to provide vital services such as academic advising and other student support programs; and it puts at risk the investment that generations of Wisconsinites have made to create a highly ranked university in our state.

The governor has called for another two-year freeze for in-state undergraduate tuition, which I support. He has also proposed a public authority model that would provide flexibilities in areas such as purchasing, management of building projects, and authority over a pay plan for university employees. These are welcome reforms that would eventually allow the System to function more effectively, but the public authority will take some time to implement and will provide no budget relief in the short term.

Our alumni are our most important ambassadors, and your voice can make a difference. I know how much you value your UW–Madison degree and the opportunities that being a graduate of a world-class educational and research institution have provided. I urge you to contact your legislators to ask them to reduce the proposed cut to the university budget so that we can continue to provide Wisconsin students with an outstanding education and serve the state in the best tradition of the Wisconsin Idea. You can contact elected officials and learn more about the budget at uwalumni.com/advocacy. You can also find information about the overall university budget in our Budget in Brief document document and follow news about the budget at budget.wisc.edu.

I urge you to and ask them to reduce the proposed cut to the university budget so that we can continue to provide Wisconsin students with an outstanding education, and serve the state in the best tradition of the Wisconsin Idea. You can find information about the overall university budget in our , and follow news about the budget at .

Thank you,

Chancellor Rebecca Blank
University of Wisconsin–Madison
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