October 31, 2004
One more day
Four years ago, the polls showed that George Bush would win the presidency by 4 percent. He lost the popular vote by more than half a million votes and the only reason he is president is the Supreme Court's intervention in the Florida recount. So, as of October 31, this race is a dead heat. The Washington Post tracking poll showed Bush dropping one point since the Osama tape was released. It is 48-48 with Nader at a statistical 0 percent. Historically, undecided voters break overwhelmingly for the challenger.
Perhaps the loopiest story yet comes to us via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Tommy Thompson said it is clear to him Osama bin Laden wants John Kerry to be elected because Kerry will not be as persistent in trying to capture him as Bush would be. I'm not making this up.
How important is this election?
Three news items should give any progressive thinking about not voting some cold water to the face. First, a picture from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals of Diane Sykes being sworn in. Had Al Gore won the Supreme Court case, she would not be headed for Chicago for a very long career. The picture of Judge Sykes ought to remind us about three or four Supreme Court and hundreds of lower federal court appointmtents that will be made over the next four years. And these are lifetime appointments!
Eight Marines were killed near Baghdad yesterday, taking the death toll of American soldiers to 1,117, and the Johns Hopkins report this week that 100,000 Iraqis have died should sober all of us. Dick Cheney calls the invasion an "amazing success." Do you wonder what his idea of a disaster is?
And then there is the Osama tape. The administration suggests that Bush should be helped by Osama's message because? Read Maureen Dowd for a superb analysis of the appearance of our enemy.
October 30, 2004
Down to the wire
Well, after months of speeches, debates, and rallies, now it is our turn. If people turn out in the numbers predicted, this will be an honest election. If either candidate wins by more than 1 percent, it will be hard for anyone to steal this one. In Wisconsin, more than 700 lawyers are ready to watch the polls, answer questions, and challenge the challengers. This ain't 2000.
If 112-115 million people vote, experts say Kerry will win. If it is 118 million, there may be a change in control of the Senate. Whatever happens, I have never, and I mean never, seen anything quite like America Coming Together, MoveOn.org, and other voter drives. Students are back and none too soon!
Monday we will give our predictions. If you want to join, send us your predictions over the weekeend after you vote.
October 28, 2004
An incredible gathering
Nearly 80,000 lined Madison's West Washington Avenue in support of John Kerry. No loyalty oaths required, no mandatory drug screenings, and no beer. (The youngest participant, Teddy McNeil, one month old, slept through most of the event but no one else dozed.)
The was plenty of excitement as the Boss warmed up the crowd with a powerful speech in favor of John Kerry and then played some of his incomparable music. And Kerry was on his game. It was the best speech most of us have heard him deliver. He has the aura of a winner.
The latest poll of Wisconsin voters by Lake, Snell and Perry shows Kerry with a 49-45 lead. And approval of the president remains stuck at 47 percent with 50 percent disapproving His performance.
The Milwaukee Elections Commission rejected 3-0 the Republicans' 5,600 challenges to new registrants. Why the unanimous decisions? No proof.
My nomination for the silliest editorial endorsement goes to the once-proud Appleton Post-Crescent. "We conclude the guy who brougt us here is also the guy most likely to get us out." Is this the best Gannett can do? No problem with their predictable endorsement, but how about some thought-provoking analysis.
Eating crow is not so bad
Well, hand me the fork, I have to eat crow. After railing against the Journal Sentinel for copping out on the presidential race and thus leaving WTMJ's Charlie Sykes as the company spokesman, the MJS endorsed a candidate for president. So, I was wrong and I will do penance.
Today the MJS endorsed in a strong editorial that ends this way: "On the whole, however, [Bush] has been so wrong about so much in such a short time that accountability must kick in at some point. We’re at that point. John Kerry for president."
October 27, 2004
I must be dreaming
Next time you fill your tank and wince when the total is more than twenty bucks, think good thoughts about those who appreciate your support. We will spend $295 billion more this year on oil than we did last year in what is being called the greatest transfer of wealth in history. Yup. From you to them. Yesterday, BP reported a 43 percent increase in profits; $3.94 billion just in the third quarter.
Some questions arise as we close in on election day. Are the professionals at the CIA and the Pentagon releasing information now to hurt Bush Cheney? Are they tired of the incompetence and the finger pointing? The 50 unarmed Iraqi soldiers shot execution style is news that could not be covered up. But the story of the criminal negligence in not guarding 380 tons of explosives had been kept secret by the Bush administration until someone leaked the news. Why? And the supplemental request of $70 billion was not to be released until after November 2, not to mention the Pentagon's request for 20,000 more troops for Iraq.
And, while looking at the news, recall president Bush angrily jumping on John Kerry for criticizing our Iraqi prime minister? Well now Allawi has called the puppet master "negligent" in not protecting the Iraqi soldiers. Know what? The White House blamed the interpreters! As Dave Barry says, I'm not making this up. And I thought the Iraqi army was just about ready to take over. My, my.
October 25, 2004
You can read and download speeches delivered by our friends Tom Harkin and Robert Kennedy Jr. at September 18th's Bob Fest. Go to our Documents page. You can also listen to the RFK Jr. speech on the Superior Broadcast Network site. Good stuff to download and share with friends.
Today's FightingBob.com article by RFK Jr., "Administration of plunder," is based on part of his Fighting Bob Fest speech.
I also draw your attention to our new GuestBlog section directly below GarveyBlog on the homepage. Yesterday we had frequent FightingBob.com contributor Camille Faherty's observations on how the abortion issue comes to bear on elections, and we will have several more election-related GuestBlogs between now and November 2. We asked people to respond to the question: "Why is this election so important."
The New Yorker magazine, for one, thinks this election is important. For the first time in 80 years, the magazine has endorsed a candidate--John Kerry. They say Kerry "has demonstrated steadiness and sturdiness of character." As for the Bush administration's record, "It has been one of failure, arrogance and incompetence."
While the New Yorker breaks with an 80-year tradition of not endorsing, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will permit Journal Communications and "Bradley Foundation Fellow" Charlie Sykes to speak for the monopoly. That is downright silly.
One week and counting
The most important election in five decades is upon us. Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the Wisconsin Elections Board, never before accused of being an optimist, is predicting a turnout as high as 75 percent statewide. If so, we may be back on track. Having been all over the state in the past two months, I have found an excitement about this election that may result in record turnout. And there should be.
While people are paying attention, figure this out. Forty-seven percent of Bush voters still believe there were WMDs in Iraq! I suspect 22 percent think the earth is flat.
October 24, 2004
The honesty of a Cubs fan
It ain't easy being a Cubs fan, especially when the lowly Red Sox perform miracles to win a pennant. But Cubs fans are honest. When an opposing batter hits a home run at Wrigley Field, the fan dutifully throws the ball back on the field. A quiet but important gesture.
Why mention this tradition? The Wisconsin State Journal endorsed Russ Feingold for his "fiscal restraint and common sense" after first endorsing the most reckless tax and spender in history, George W. Bush.
So, Russ, like a good Cubs fan, I urge you to tell the State Journal to keep their endorsement. Throw it back on the field. Besides, if you needed it they would have endorsed Tim what's-his-name.
But the State Journal is still one step above the monopoly on Lake Michigan. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorializes on Afhanistan, the Red Sox, and how we must all support the Brewers, but not on the presidential election. No endorsement? Egad. Why do you have an editorial board? Or do you?
October 23, 2004
Democracy at risk
The New York Times suggests this election will be a 2000 redux unless Kerry wins by a significant margin or Bush wins by any margin. The headline: "Big GOP Bid to Challenge Voters in Key State." That state? Ohio, where Kerry holds a six-point advantage. The Republican Party will place "thousands of recruits inside polling places to challenge the qualifications of voters." And they will do the same in Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, and other swing states.
Wisconsin lawyers are gearing up to protect the ability of voters to cast their ballots. The dirty little secret is that minorities and students will be the target of the voter suppression tactics. In Wisconsin, a person who challenges a voter must have personal knowledge that the person is not qualified. In other words, they can't challenge by saying, "Hey, you look young, or black or you speak Spanish."
If you have questions, send us an e-mail or call the state Elections Board.
I watched part of the Sinclair Broadcasting effort to elect George W. Bush, and I had to check the channel. I thought we had mistakenly gone to Comedy Central. The effort to turn the program into a "news" format looked like a Jon Stewart "Daily Show" parody.
Sinclair may have done some good. People now know how phony their regular "news" broadcasts are, including the nightly pontification from Mark Hyman, and we have been exposed to the danger of allowing one family to own 62 television stations. And, oddly, the program was so obviously biased that my guess is that it will help Kerry more than Bush.
October 22, 2004
Journal Communications punts?
While the New York Times (Kerry), Chicago Tribune (Bush), Star Tribune (Kerry), Charlotte Observer (Kerry) and hundreds of newspapers endorse Kerry-Edwards or Bush-Cheney,the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, owned by Journal Communications, will apparently punt in this, the most important election in half a century by not endorsing. But, of course, WTMJ radio, owned by Journal Communications, endorses, endorses, and endorses Bush-Cheney. Today, lead endorser and "in-house whiner" Charlie Sykes will have two important segments during John Kerry's visit to Wisconsin.
First, Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff, followed by "several" veterans who starred in the discredited Stolen Honor , the "film" to be broadcast on Sinclair stations. The NY Times described the film as "rife with out-of-context and incomplete quotations from Mr. Kerry...many accusations in it were not provable or streteched far beyond reality."
So, every day, all day, Journal Communications fills the airwaves with pro-Republican rhetoric, but the newspaper of record in Milwaukee will seek nomination for the Pontius Pilot award for not endorsing their radio favorite Bush, or John Kerry. I can hardly wait to read their flip-flopping-on-the-one-hand-but-on-the-other-explanation.
Meantime, the Bush team has added a new commercial featuring prowling wolves with the catchy announcement that "weakness attracts those waiting to do harm." It is unclear to me if the wolves represent Cheney or Osama, but it shows desperation in the stretch.
We invite your comments for publication next week as we hit the home-stretch. Watch out for wolves. We need you.
October 21, 2004
For a superb report on the Sinclair Broadcast nonsense, go to the Common Cause Web site and join the chorus of protest against the Sinclair "Hail Mary" pass to save the corporate media's best friend, George W. Bush.
I'm always surprised. One would think I had never been in a campaign myself not to mention three, but I always think people will play by the rules. The Scalia election in 2000 should have sent me to a 12-step program to deal with the evil forces, but, like most of you, I thought that was unique. It was not. Now we see 2004 shaping up as something that will make 2000 look fair by comparison: Republicans in Wisconsin circulating petitions for Nader in clear violation of law not to mention the public trust; GOP Chair Rick Graber going bonkers that some people in jail have voted absentee and raising the specter of a Jeb Bush effort in Wisconsin to scare African Americans away from the polls; and the Milwaukee County Executive refusing to print enough ballots for the city until Mayor Tom Barrett forced his hand.
We need a national effort to cleanse ourselves when this election is over. Our system has been captured by consultants, crooks, and latter-day Lee Atwaters. The People's Legislature on January 4 may be the start of a movement to provide a political home for the homeless and reform for the whole system. In the meantime, vote early. Don't wait until the lines are long and the goons are out.
Keeping you informed
I suspect nearly all FightingBob.com readers rely on several sources for news updates, but we sometimes try to pick the best to recommend. We have posted on our Documents page the Ron Suskind NY Times article on George W. Bush that is really a must-read. (While you are there, read Bill Moyers' article on the media.)
When the president says he will "privatize Social Secuity" why is that not news on NPR, WPR, commercial radio and television? If you are dependent on Social Security as a disabled person, or if you have a child, spouse or sibling who is, it seems pretty obvious that the threat to Social Security is more important in your life than Dick Cheney's ramblings about nuclear attacks if John Kerry is elected.
For fun, check out our Feedback section for thoughtful responses to articles, blogs and Bob Fest. Responses from you make all of this worthwhile. Want the DVD or VHS of the Kennedy and Harkin Bob Fest speeches? Let us know.
October 20, 2004
Polls don't lie
Yah, right. But I have to believe in one poll. Jon Stewart got 62% support in an AOL unscientific vote over our pal Tucker Carlson who got 22%. For those of you who missed it, go online to watch "Cross-fire" last Friday. You will understand why we raised hell about PBS giving a half-hour program to Carlson the non-journalist on Friday nights to "off-set" NOW with journalist Bill Moyers. Carlson is Mark Hyman with a bow tie. Stewart's Daily Show is a do-not-miss program at 10:00 every night.
Tomorrow we will talk about Sinclair.
For over a year, friends have speculated that the administraion would pull Osama out of the White House rose garden, invade Iran, go to code red and delay the election. Well, surprise surprise, the bigest surprise is the missing vaccine caper. The Administration brags that we, not Canada or Holland have the best health care system in the world. And they are correct if you are a member of Congress.
While 20 million Americans go without, Majority leader Bill Frist urged "all 535 lawmakers to get the shot even if they are young and healthy." Boy am I relieved! If our troops don't get the vaccine and are not ready for combat, the Washington Senators will once again take the field. They will protect us. You bettcha.
Bush doesn't know who to blame. He can't blame his administration because he can't. He can't figure out how it was Kerry's fault, so he alone in the world blames the lawyers who might have sued someone. Why not the boogeyman?
October 19, 2004
The New York Times reports that the president's approval rating is down to 44 percent, and most experts believe he cannot win with those numbers; the race is tied at 46-46; a majority of those polled disapprove of how Bush is handling the Iraqi war and the economy.
Most responded that Kerry would do a better job protecting Social Security. Want to know why? George Bush promised his supporters that in his second administration he would privatize Social Security. Yikes! (See Ron Suskind's article.)
Think Kerry might do better providing flu vaccine? Could anyone do worse? But Tommy Thompson urged seniors to relax, stay out of lines, and to "contact us if you have a problem." I'm not making this up. The guy completely screws up and his prescription is to relax, be quiet, call Daddy.
Douglas County--the fight continues
Professor Nancy Unger has written a terrific article on Fighting Bob La Follette and the efforts to maintain his spirit in Wisconsin. She concludes that "to quit now--or ever--would be a disservice to all those who fought against the tyranny of the few and for the rights of the many...progressivism lives on in all of us willing to believe in the power of the people."
Living proof that the spirit lives on can be seen in Douglas County, where the energy bully ATC is threatening the county board with litigation unless it knuckles under and permits ATC to build monstrous 14-story towers on public land. SOUL has been fighting this fight for five years. (ATC plans to wheel power to Chicago.) But if threats do not work, ATC offers to provide several pieces of silver. (ATC gave Marathon County $750,000.)
Douglas County Board chair Doug Finn gets the La Follette award for October.
October 18, 2004
Panic hit some quarters this morning when Gallup announced an 8-point lead for President Bush. Where, may we ask, did the new support come from? Democrats who thought Bush won the debate? Republicans who "came home"?
Well, four years ago at this time, Gallup told us Bush was ahead of Gore by 13 percent. Then on election day, Bush by 2 percent. Remember: Gore won.
This election is too close for pollsters. Now they are competing for bragging rights so hold your hats.
Could it get worse?
The New York Times reported yesterday that guards at Guantanamo Bay used coercive treatment on detainees held there that will make you sick. Now we know why the administration denied these prisoners their right to counsel. Read this and weep for our country.
"One regular procedure described by people who worked at Camp Delta...was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underpants, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor and forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers while the air conditioning was turned up to maximum levels...such sessions lasted up to 14 hours."
The Geneva conventions were adopted out of self-interest. No nation wants to have its soldiers tortured. What is the lesson from this administration to the world? That the most powerful need not follow conventions of the civilized world?
October 17, 2004
God is with W
When you look back on the Reagan years, we sensed that he was losing it but did not know until well after his presidency that he suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Now that is frightening but, of course, the White House press corps, dubbed by RFK Jr. at Bob Fest as "stenographers to power" as opposed to journalists, never reported on his condition when he was seeking re-election. We are lucky he was surrounded by some sensible people. Lucky.
George W. Bush is surrounded by Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and people who believe that Armaggedon is about to occur--and that it is a good thing! That the "Rapture" is about to happen.
Ron Suskind in today's New York Times Magazine makes our concerns about Reagan pale by comparison with concerns we should have about George W. Bush. The question Suskind raises is if the president really does hear voices from God. Here is one quote from Bruce Bartlett who was an advisor to Reagan: "...that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do. This is why W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Quaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all...He understands them because he's just like them."
Now that is downright scary. What do the media gurus at the networks and Fox News know about this? Does Bush really think he hears from God? That God told him to invade Iraq? Will God tell him to nuke Iran?
We used to think it was okay to talk to God but believed that those who heard responses were nuts. The question raised is whether or not he (not He) is off his rocker. This is one scary article that you must read.
Whatever happened to honesty?
I often criticize the Wisconsin State Journal (WSJ), but must give kudos today for their lead story: "Republicans worked on Nader drive." Okay, we all knew that the GOP was hoping to get Ralph on the ballot and we suspect that Republicans paid for the Nader legal team that fought to keep him on the ballot, but WSJ went beyond the usual suspects to give us much more of the whole story.
Dee Hall and Andy Hall discovered a coordinated Republican effort to get signatures on forms where they swore "I intend to support these candidates." The Elections Board form says it is a felony to submit false information. But these circulators did. They submitted thousands of signatures gained under false pretenses.
What will happen to them? Apparently nothing. The Elections Board attorney poo-poohed it because it is hard to prove. A political science professor at UW-Madison called it "minor" compared to other negative campaigning. I'm not making this up. The professor said, "At least they were working to provide more choices." This is today's political "science"? It is okay to lie and violate the law if the end game is okay? Whoa Nelly.
One of the GOP circulators outed by WSJ is attorney Jay Nixon of Racine County who ran for circuit judge this year. How about them apples? A lawyer engaged in this conduct? I'm lucky. I clerked for Wade Boardman while attending law school. He would tolerate a lot but never dishonesty or unethical conduct.
Shame on the GOP leaders, the 119 circulators, and those who signed knowing full well they were "playing" a game. Only problem is it is not a game. What is the lesson for those young people who watch to see how adults behave?
Whatever happened to honesty?
October 16, 2004
Troops refuse to move
Just when the Bush administration thought things could not get worse in Iraq, they did. This was a very bad week. Hundreds killed by insurgents, more American soldiers killed, the so-called Green Area was penetrated, additional stories on Abu Gharib, up to 18 soldiers accused of homocide in Afghanistan, and now 19 soldiers refused to take their vehicles on a mission because the vehicles are not safe.
As opposed to the treatment of soldiers involved in the prison scandal, these 19 are now held in armed custody. This is a tough one for President Bush, who remained far out of harm's way during the Vietnam war. Will he have them court-martialed and imprisoned? Who is responsible for the lack of adequate armor on the vehicles we ask our 19 and 20-year-olds to drive along these highly dangerous roads? Would W. send his daughters into that situation?
I can hardly wait for Five Deferments Cheney to condemn these youngsters for disobeying orders. He remained out of Vietnam because, "I had other priorities." Having never seen a battle field, what will he say now to the parents and spouses of those 19 soldiers? "I have priorities for your sons and daughters--to get elected."
Ah, what webs we weave when we start out to deceive. The administration took us into a war without a justification and without an exit strategy. As the number of those killed in action grows, we know these young people were sent to Iraq without proper equipment. Is that Halliburton's fault? Or will Karl Rove blame John Kerry? I'll bet on the latter.
Whew! That was close
In a nod in the direction of common sense, Milwaukee County Executive Scott "the ballot" Walker, agreed under pressure to print enough ballots needed for the city of Milwaukee. I had offered to raise the $30,000 needed if Walker could not find the dough, but in a surprise gesture, Milwaukee County agreed to pay the $30,000. Walker is co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign.
Everyone is predicting the best turnout in recent history, so more ballots were obviously needed.
October 15, 2004
GuestBlog: By Bill Kraus
TV and not TV
Anyone who lives in Wisconsin can get the impression that the battle for the presidency is being fought mainly with dueling 30 second TV commercials. Anyone who lives in New York or California or Massachusetts or even Texas is probably saying "What TV commercials?"
Because the expensive TV campaign is being waged mostly in states where either candidate can win and where media costs are relatively low, a lot of money is available for the very costly, very large, very well organized campaign that is being conducted at the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust level.
Both the Kerry and Bush campaigns have thousands of partisans beating the bushes in search of adherents. Once these sure voters are identified, another army of partisans will follow up during election week to make certain that these sure-votes get cast.
We have, in effect, an odd coupling of traditional shoe leather and slick electronic campaigning tactics. Someday we will find out which cost these outrageously campaigns expensive the most.
Another Wisconsin soldier
Twenty-two years old. That is a staggering thought. Daniel Wyatt graduated from Racine Horlick High School just a few years ago, was a Marine reservist, and he and his wife had great plans for the future before he was sent to Iraq. The Commander-in-Chief will not attend the funeral. Our sympathies are with his wife and family.
This tragedy must end.
Words to live by
The White House responded to the news that 2004 showed an all-time record deficit of $413 billion. When Bush took office, there had been four years of surpluses and the projection of 2004 was for a surplus of $387 billion. For those who are mathmatically challenged, that comes to about an $800 billion reversal. Last year the Bush deficit was a mere $377 billion for a two-year total of $790 billion!
But, says the White House, our deficit was not really as bad as the Reagan deficit of 1983. "Daddy, tell us the story about the tax cuts again. Please!"
October 14, 2004
Open letter to Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker
I understand you feel Milwaukee is so out of control that there might be widespread voter fraud if enough ballots are delivered to polling places. And, besides, you cannot afford the $30,000 or so to print the number of ballots the city of Milwaukee has requested. That is a darned shame.
I have an offer for you. I will raise the money to pay for the extra ballots and will gurantee that you will be paid should the fundraising fall short. Democracy and the right to vote for citizens of Milwaukee should not be compromised for $30,000. As far as the "fraud" matter, perhaps we could assemble a citizen watch. Could Bear Stearns help pay?
I look forward to hearing from you. Ed Garvey
Hey! Maybe I'm not crazy
After the debate last night, I wrote that it was a "knock-out" for Kerry over Bush. The overnight polling data agreed with my conclusion. Gallup/CNN said Kerry "easily defeated Bush." Their poll was similar to debate number one--Kerry 52 Bush 39. On communication skills: Kerry 61% Bush 29%; Health care, Kerry 52% Bush 39%.
The write-in poll of AOL had a 53-47 Kerry victory--about the same as the first debate. (I can hardly wait for the Charlie Sykes and WPRI spin showing that Bush won!)
October 13, 2004
Sorry Mr. President but it ain't Texas anymore
In what can only be described as a knock-out, challenger John Kerry demonstrated conclusively that he is in a different league than George W. Bush. It is the class clown vs. the student body president. If it had been a prize fight they would have called a TKO early on in the fight.
The head tilts, the nervous giggles, the absurd effort to paint Kerry as left of Ted Kennedy, all added up to a failing grade. Kerry was solid, strong, clear and articulate. The president was not.
While only 5-7% could have been motivated to switch to one or the other, the momentum remains with Kerry. The Chicago Tribune today released a poll showing Kerry up by 4% in Wisconsin. After tonight, Wisconsin should be colored blue.
October 12, 2004
One more near-debate
It would be wonderful if Bob Schieffer just said tonight, "Okay, boys. I'm dumping the rules. You have 90 minutes--debate each other." In my dreams, of course, but one could imagine W. running off stage.
The race is tied, they say. Who are "they"? Good question. "They" can afford polls, afford spin-meisters, afford to buy 62 TV stations nationwide like Sinclair.
One of "them" is the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI), the rightwing polling arm of the extreme rightwing Bradley Foundation. (See part 4 of Bruce Murphy's series on compensation in MJS for more.) WPRI releases "polls" and the mainstreamers report the results without identifying the source. Whenever you hear that Bush has opened a 10-point lead in Wiscosin, chances are good it will be coming from another WPRI poll.
The Bishops are back!
The Bishops are back! They are apparently following the word from the Vatican to elect W. Bush over Catholic John Kerry. Denver Bishop Chaput (pronounced "Kaput") dropped by a sports bar in Denver to warn against stem cell research, and, oh yes, abortion, birth control, and other mortal sins. He is one of three bishops running around the country urging Catholics to elect Bush. And one of the others is our own former Bishop of La Crosse, Raymond Burke.
I checked. FightingBob.com has posted 14 articles or blogs about Burke. We offered to help him ship his things down the Mississippi to St. Louis after he told his priests they should deny communion to Dave Obey and Julie Lassa. But the article you should read first was written by Frank Boyle in Jaunuary.
Incredible. My father gave up politics because of anti-Catholic diatribes against Al Smith. He would have, according to fundamentalists, let Rome rule the White House. Same argument in 1960 when JFK ran. Now we have an incredible death wish from Bishop Burke and Chaput. "Don't vote for a Catholic" they exclaim from on low. He won't be ruled by Rome. Whoa Nelly!
The Bishops do not care about the death penalty, poverty, war, bombing innnocent civilians, the environment or other issues affecting life outside the womb. Here is one of the most absurd statements in an absurd election by Rev. Kemberling, who was accused of telling Catholics how to vote: "We are not telling them how to vote. We are telling them how to take communion in good conscience." Wow.
Big changes at WEAC
Michael Butera, executive director of WEAC, announced last week that John Stocks, WEAC's political director for many years, has resigned to become deputy executive director of the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. In his announcement Butera said, "We want to wish John the very best in his new journey."
Then WEAC president Stan Johnson announced that Butera was resigning to take a position with NEA. There was no announcement as to the responsibilities Butera will have at NEA.
Johnson said in a statement released to the media, "Butera led the education community's participation in economic development, a legacy we will appreciate for years to come."
Congress: House of ill-repute
Once upon a time, Congress adjourned a full month or more before November elections. In the old days, members had to rush home to campaign for re-election. Seldom would major legislation be brought to the floor in the dying days of the session for good reason. Members had their eye on the election and not the substance of complex bills. But that was when members paid more attention to their voting constituents than to their cash constituents.
Today, all that counts is pleasing the lobbyists. It would be wrong to give money to the senators. Heaven forbid! So they don't. The lobbyists give it to the person hired by the senator to collect money in the form of campaign contributions. One is bribery and the other is "honest graft." (The name given to this process by Brooks Jackson.)
Because money is the mother's milk of politics, incumbents rarely have serious competition, giving them more time to spend with the lobbyists. The grab-bag of tax cuts passed the other day will make many lobbyists wealthy. They will be rewarded for gaining billions of tax breaks for their patrons.
Who won? Well, a partial list would include the tobacco companies, General Electric, Exxon Mobil, the big agribusiness operations and the utilities. Little wonder why John Eisenhower, son of Ike, wrote, "Today's Republican Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar...the Republican Party I used to know placed heavy emphasis on fiscal responsibility, which included balancing the budget."
Facing historic deficits caused by the invasion and the tax cuts for wealthy individuals, instead of closing the gap Congress added another $150 billion or so to the tab that we will, ever so gently, turn over to our children and grandchildren.
I suspect historians will look back on this Congress as the most irresponsible in history. But break out the good stuff because the lobbyists are buying--buying our democracy.
October 11, 2004
Hard to keep up
Jim Hightower often quotes Lilly Tomlin, "No matter how cynical you are, it is hard to keep up." While your attention is focused on the presidential election, the lobbyists in Washington were sponsoring a corporate tax-break grab bag.
Congress cannot do anything to provide health care for 45 million uninsured Americans or funding for the No Child Left Behind law, but they can give $42 billion in tax breaks to multinational corporations and gifts to NASCAR track owners. Lilly Tomlin, move over.
Despite the rush of anger that follows reading about the special weekend grab-fest, there are lots of positive signs in Wisconsin. Yesterday I went to a rally in Portage and a mini-Bob Fest in Darien. There is an intensity about this campaign that is quite remarkable. I have not felt such intensity since 1968 when the Vietnam war was the issue.
Have you noticed that the Bush campaign is again condemning liberals? Big, bad liberals want stem cell research, lower tuition, funding for schools. What is wrong with them? Don't they know we have a perpetual war to fight and corporate welfare to dole out?
October 10, 2004
Makes you feel good!
Bruce Murphy writes a superb article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that is the first in a four part series. For starters, absorb this news: "Average pay for top American CEO's and board chairmen has soared from $479,000 to $8.1 million in the last quarter century." Meanwhile, on the shop floor, wages have not even kept pace with inflation. "If average worker pay, now $26,899, had risen like CEO pay, it would exceed $184,000. If the minimum wage had risen at the same rate, it would now be almsot $45 an hour."
Meanwhile, we are still waiting for state Senator Grothman's response to Senator Judy Robson's FightingBob.com article. We want to know why he helped kill an increase in the minimum wage--not to $45 per hour--to $6.15.
Good work, Bruce Murphy.
How can candidates find a forum?
Running for office is fun, intellectually stimulating, and, as President Bush would say, hard work. If it is fun and stimulating, why are so few people running today and why do most incumbent legislators go unopposed? There are plenty of dedicated idealists of all ages who would love to give something back to the community by holding office. The concern about global warming, mercury pollution, truck and car emisions, and developers ignoring smart growth is everywhere I travel in Wisconsin.
Why are good citizens reluctant to run? Read last Friday's GuestBlog by my friend Bill Kraus and then read Brian Puka's article "In search of stumps." The only way to win against a well-funded candidate who can buy TV and radio spots is to speak to enough people about the issues and convince them that you are the better candidate. But where do you turn for an audience?
Our democracy is in serious trouble when candidates are chased out of shopping malls, the Hilldale Farmer's Market, and even libraries. How can the upstart convince you if he/she cannot meet you? When I ran for governor, I was threatened with arrest if I stood and talked with workers leaving their jobs and literally lifted up and taken out of a parking lot. (No easy task given my weight.)
We need legislation declaring malls public property for purposes of political discourse. Can't be done you say? Nonsense. If the mall owners want police and fire protection and public tax dollars then they need to get out of the way of democracy. Corporations should not dictate policy to the public.
I suspect this will be on the agenda for the People's Legislative Session. Stay tuned.
October 9, 2004
Debates better than expected
I have to admit that I was wrong. Someone did sprinkle Tobasco sauce on Jim Lehrer's dinner and the first debate went very well. So well that Kerry is now tied or leading Bush. And, Jim Lehrer did quite well. The vice presidential debate wasn't bad either, and last night again showed the nation that Bush is out of his league with Kerry.
Even in the AOL "poll" of AOL users, it was 50-50. If one approves of shouting as a substitute for facts then Bush did OK, but in terms of substance he was forced to lay out his rightwing agenda on choice, stem cell research, court appointments and pollution. A very good evening for the Kerry ticket.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
Last night, President Bush, in his best cheerleader act insisted the economy is "on the move." Well, we need 150,000-200,000 new jobs per month to keep up with the increase in population of working-age Americans, and in September job growth was less than 100,000. More than 1.6 million jobs have been lost since Bush took over. Yup. Fewer Americans are working today than when the Bush administration began.
The economy is moving--but in the wrong direction.
October 8, 2004
GuestBlog: By Bill Kraus
One of the ways I pass the time in my dotage is driving hundreds of miles to give speeches to long suffering audiences. My topic is usually The State of Politics in Wisconsin. This could be covered in one word: lousy. Since they seem to want more than that, I go to great lengths to tell them how I think we got to this sorry state and who the culprits were that led us astray.
Inevitably, they ask what they should do about this.
The parties are gone, the voters, heeding Lee Dreyfus's admonition to "Let The People Decide," are gone as well; they have decided to stay home.
The candidate who has the smartest hired gun, the most money, and the best commercials tends to be the winner in a politics that has become more like marketing where the voters are customers and less like politics where the voters are active participants.
Instead of admitting that my answer to their question is "I don't know," I do suggest a couple of things.
I tell them to vote for anyone who promises to do anything, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, to get a lid on campaign spending. This may not bring us back to our former puritanical state, but it couldn't hurt. It might even help.
My second recommendation is to vote, early, often, and in large numbers. If the voting percentage suddenly went from under 50 percent to close to 80 percent, the organized single-issue factions that are so inordinately powerful today because they do vote, would lose their leverage to those of us who are more interested in improving the human condition than advancing some narrow cause.
Naturally the law of unintended consequences will come into play, and these worthy ideas will not achieve all of what I hope, but they do seem to me to be worth a shot.
WBAY-TV in Green Bay, recently purchased by Milwaukee Journal Communications, is a bit red-faced today. Turns out the Associated Press sent a test message to all subscribers and WBAY posted it on their Web site as fact. WBAY's announcement of the mistake reads: "Correction: President Bush Did Not Win Election on October 7"!
Ah, those who think about conspiracies will have fun with this one. Now, had Fox News carried the story, no one would be surprised.
October 7, 2004
RFK Jr., Harkin, and WPT
The first Bob Fest III DVD is ready to be mailed. Two hours of inspiration await you. Great speeches by Kennedy and Harkin that reached the soul. You can find them in our Documents section. (No, do not go to Factcheck.com.)
By the way. For the next three Friday evenings, Wisconsin Public Television's "Here and Now" will have a political segment with Bob Welch, Ed Thompson and me. Should be fun as Dave Iverson returns for these shows.
A major public health fiasco
Amidst headlines announcing that Saddam was faking it out of fear of Iran, not the U.S.; that Iraq complied with U.N. sanctions and destroyed WMD's; that Bremmer said there never were enough troops to secure the peace, how are we doing at home?
Remember when Anthrax was the rage? We saw Tommy Thompson on every channel explaining at first that it may have come from a creek in North Carolina, but comforting us about the vigilance of the Bush adminstration. Instead of bizarre theories about Anthrax, Tommy should have heeded warnings that our flu vaccine supplies were in jeopardy.
Some 36,000 people die from flu in the U.S. annually, and that is in the "good" years. "Good" is when we have an adequate supply of vaccine. Not this year. No siree! Tommy and Tom Ridge were focused on terrorism and homeland security, not public health. The NY Times quoted the head of public health at Columbia University: "It's a major public health fiasco" that will lead to more deaths and hospitalizatons this year.
The problem? Those drug companies spending milions to purchase votes in Congress to keep prescription prices for seniors high and Canadian imports out, and hundreds of millions more on TV ads than research, have quietly left the playing field. Why? Not profitable? Not profitable enough. Catch this. We relied on two (2) suppliers, and, as it turns out, one was negligent.
We lost 3,000 precious lives in the 9/11 tragedy. Many believe 9/11 occured because of the negligence of the Bush team. There can be no doubt about the "pre-flu" negligence of the Bush team headed by our own Tommy Thompson that could result in ten or twenty times the number of deaths we suffered on September 11. As the triage begins, you might send a thank you note to the president. (But wait. There must be some way to blame John Kerry and John Edwards. Bring in the creative writers.)
October 6, 2004
Beware of polls
The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) is funded by the right-wing Bradley Foundation. Charlie Sykes is a WPRI fellow and I have "debated" with Jim Miller, the WPRI executive director, on the Wisconsin Public Radio political panel. WPRI conducted a poll and, predictably, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gave front-page coverage to the results, including the finding that 67 percent of Wisconsin residents would favor the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR.
In reality, the reason for releasing the poll seems clear. It is to give a boost to TABOR in the MJS and on the morning screed of Journal Communications' own Charlie Sykes on WTMJ radio.
Okay, so what if the Bradley Foundation is part of the effort to influence the Legislature? So what if Charlie Sykes and MJS are part of the package? The "so what" is that MJS fails to tell the public who funded the poll, who asked the questions, who decided to release it. And, in a disappointing report on Wisconsin Public Radio, there was no explanation of the right-wing character of WPRI. That is important. We expect more from WPR.
Bremer tells the truth
Paul Bremer headed American efforts in Iraq for more than a year. In a speech at DePauw University, Bremer told the audience that the mistake made by President Bush was that he did not send enough troops to do the job. Given the furor surrounding Bremer's speech, I almost felt sorry for Dick Cheney last night as he tried to put happy face stickers on a disaster. But then I remembered that 1,060 American soldiers are dead as a result of this reckless invasion. And the president and his vice president have not attended even one funeral. Not one.
Bremer was confirming what General Shinseki had already told us. He wanted more troops and was rewarded by being shoved off stage and into retirement.
Let's review the bidding. Saddam did not have WMD's, he was not involved in 9/11, he was not a threat to the U.S. or Israel, and now we know that we have created a recruiting station for anti-American insurgents.
"Truth is the first casuality of war." Never has that aphorism meant more to Americans.
October 5, 2004
Polls and more polls
Why is it when polls showed president Bush with a double digit lead the corporate media focused on polls more than issues, and now that the race is, according to most polls, a dead heat or even showing Kerry with a lead, the focus of the corporate media has shifted to sports, Mt. St Helens and "style"? The NY Times poll showed that by a remarkable 60-23 percent margin, people thought Kerry won the debate.
The NY Times poll also shows some interesting movement. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said Bush had done a poor job in anticipating what would happen after the invasion of Iraq and 52 percent said the U.S. was too quick to go to war in the first place. Forty-four percent have a favorable opinion of Bush with the same percentage having an unfavorable view. Sixty-five percent said Bush has no plan to get our troops out of Iraq.
Karl Rove is nervous.
Check this smell
Two Americans won the Nobel Prize in Physiology for solving the riddle of how people can smell thousands of odors and recall them. Dr. Axel and Dr. Buck will focus on political campaign spots for the rest of the year.
October 4, 2004
Wounded? Call later
The Washington Post carried a front-page story about the treatment of wounded veterans. The Post reported that veteran services are overwhelmed, but despite the increasing number of seriously wounded the Bush budget for 2005 calls for cutting the Department of Veterans Affairs staff that handles benefit claims.
A staff sergeant, paralyzed in Iraq, said, "I love the military but I don't believe they are taking care of me now."
It makes me sick. Can we send our young people into harm's way without proper equipment, ignore their funerals, and remain indifferent to the permanently wounded? What have we become?
Let them eat compassion?
State Senator Judy Robson writes about the Republicans' successful effort to kill an increase in the minimum wage. We have invited Senator-elect Glenn Grothman to write on the same topic, from the other side.
I must admit that I cannot understand how anyone could live, not to mention support a child or two, on $5.15 per hour. If you work full-time, 52 weeks a year with no vacation, you would earn $10,712. The increase proposed would have raised that to $11,856 per year in 2005 and all the way to $13,520 in 2006.
C'mon! Don't open your shirt because your heart might fall out. Think about the cost of gasoline going up 30 or 40 cents per gallon. They tell us home heating will go up 15-30 percent this winter. Something has to give and we are back to a choice--home or food--for way too many people. Could we get some mustard with the compassion?
October 3, 2004
Thomas Friedman is back
NY Times columnist Tom Friedman is back with an apology for being away when we really needed him. He should not feel so bad. Hey, our governor is in Japan.
Friedman has taken another look at Iraq and observed:
"This war has been hugely mismanaged...at every stage. Bush followed the Rumsfeld doctrine,'Just enough troops to lose.'" And, the real zinger, "At every turn, ideology trumped what was right."
While Kerry did a superb job in the debate and now has the momentum, not enough has been said about the handling of this war. Republican Richard Lugar agrees with virtually every military leader who has spoken out that management of the war has been incompetent.
What is most alarming is the Bush doctrine: "Never change directions, stick with your game plan, stay the course." If Bush were a baseball manager he would have no bullpen. Go with the starter for nine innings--never waiver, never adjust, go with your first choice. (Perhaps he can take over the Cubs in 2005.)
A remarkable story. Fox News apologized for fabricating quotes they attributed to John Kerry. The posting on their Web page by an experienced reporter isn't really worth repeating, but catch this Bush-lite excuse: "The error occcured because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice."
And what did Fox say about Dan Rather? C'mon Fox. You sound like the president, "I work hard, I work hard...it is hard work."
The idea of Fox apologizing for fabrication is a real story. If they ever go to the truth they will lose their audience.
October 2, 2004
Not our fault
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that a $100,000 study on why Milwaukee has dumped 18 billion gallons of raw sewage into Lake Michigan has found two culprits: First, Mother Nature for giving us too much rain; second, the people for illegal sump pumps and illegal sewer hookups. I'm not making this up.
Task Force chairman Don Theiler said that in conversations with cab drivers, bar patrons and other "ordinary Milwaukeeans" he concluded they "really don't understand dumping's true causes."
Wow! And I thought experts who are paid lots of money would ask people other than bar patrons and cab drivers, but hey, if the Cubs are out of the playoffs because of critical comments from their "homer" announcer Steve Stone, why not blame the people of Milwaukee for 18 billion gallons of raw sewage. It's the damned cab drivers! If only they understood!
P.S. The report "did not offer a prescriptoion for how to cure the problem." Remember when this came up and Tony Earl and Alberta Darling condemned environmental groups for not doing enough on this issue? Now we know it is environmentalists, cab drivers and Mother Nature. Chicago, prepare yourself for more of Milwaukee's sewage.
October 1, 2004
GuestBlog: By Bill Kraus
What goes around comes around, but upside down
In 1960 most Republicans were convinced that all the Roman Catholics would vote for John Kennedy and that if he won the election, he would take his orders from the Pope in Rome.
Neither came to pass.
In 2004, John Kerry, the Roman Catholic candidate, is being criticized by many clerics for being pro-choice and is not allowed to take communion in several dioceses. His Catholicism is not an issue among most Republicans. But it may be among the Democrats.
The Republicans are no longer fearful of what scared them in 1960. They are vigorously trying to get as many Roman Catholics to vote for George W. Bush as they can.
This probably won't come to pass either, but the political world has clearly been turned on its head in the last 44 years.
Kerry lets loose
Even David Brooks on PBS was forced to call it a draw while Mark Shields said "Kerry leaves here with the wind at his back." (That is another old Irish saying--not the one we have in the FightingBob.com masthead.) Pat Buchanan called it a victory for Kerry. The CNN overnight count had 54 percent saying Kerry won and that he picked up 8 percent of the voters. Most importantly, Jon Stewart on the "Daily Show" said Kerry impressed him with clear statements on the war. As for the clumsy moments where Bush seemed frozen, it was grist for Stewart's mill.
But the spin will convince you by tomorrow that there was no debate, or that president Bush trounced John Kerry, or that John Kerry never did go to Vietnam. It was George Bush who got the Purple Heart.
One humorous detail. On the PBS split-screen, the cameras were adjusted so Bush looked slightly taller than the much taller Kerry behind the podium. Baker never misses a trick. Meanwhile, Governor Doyle is on day six of his trip to Japan.
Supreme Court rules for Nader
I sat through the two-hour argument before the Supreme Court yesterday on the question of whether or not Ralph Nader should be denied a place on the ballot. It was good, lively, and substantive argument with an engaged Supreme Court. The lawyers for the Democratic Party appeared to have the better argument on a strict reading of the law. But the court made it clear that giving voters a choice trumped process and procedural error.
Was it healthy for the Democratic Party to attempt to keep Nader off the ballot? Was it smart? What is your view?