September 30, 2004
Signs of hope for clean air
In a wonderful victory for environmentalists, Federal Judge Clevert, Eastern District of Wisconsin, granted a motion brought by Clean Wisconsin, Sierra Club and the Citizens Utility Board to hold off on approval of consent decree between Wisconsin Electric Power Company(WE) and the EPA. The court gave the intervenors 90 days to investigate "the nature and extent of WE's alleged violation of the Clean Air Act at the Milwaukee Valley and Presque Isle power plants."
Judge Clevert held that "the court must be satisfied that it is fair, reasonable, adequate and consistent with applicable law." He added, "This court is not a rubber stamp and public as well as private interests hang in the balance."
Congratulations to Bruce Nilles of Sierra Club; Pam McGillivray representing Clean Wisconsin; and George Edgar representing CUB.
Score one for the good guys.
September 29, 2004
Debate, face-off, press conference, whatever
Whatever you call this rigged event, here is a news flash: Fox News reports that Kerry lost the first debate, shook up his advisors and did better in the second debate but still lost. "Bush is the victor," Fox reports.
Fanciful? Perhaps. We can't read the internal memos from Roger Ailes news director of "fair and balanced" Fox, but we know from past behavior that the spin will twirl you around your living room tomorrow night.
Al Gore reminds us that in the last debate of 2000 candidate Bush promised to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada; promised that tax cuts would create millions of new jobs; and promised that if he put troops into combat, "The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished." And, and I'm not making this up: "And the exit strategy needs to be well defined."
This, from NY Times today: "Over the past 30 days more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents...1048 American soldiers have been killed..." and on and on and on. Some exit strategy. Thank you, Mr. President.
Ethics Board rides again
It is almost impossible to believe that the state Ethics Board--surrounded by ethical scandals in Madison that go unreported--would, once again, spend hundreds of staff hours and thousands of dollars reviewing Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager's gas receipts, car wash bill and broken tail light. But it did. The unremarkable 10-page "report" says more about the mixed-up priorities of the politically appointed Ethics Board than it does about the Attorney General.
Meanwhile, Governor Doyle is in Japan on what is euphemistically called a "trade mission." (Are we really expected to believe that governors make business deals for Wisconsin-based companies on these missions?) But check this: the Department of Commerce, headed by a former Quarles & Brady attorney, announced that Quarles & Brady, Harley Davidson, Johnson Controls and Price Waterhouse are paying for the governor's share of the Japan expenses.
I'll bet his expenses are worth several car washes in Fond du Lac, but the Ethics Board does not question this all-expenses paid trip, paid for by companies that do business with the state of Wisconsin. Instead, the Ethics Board dives back into its safety zone of the same old stuff about the AG. Ever wonder why people are cynical about government in Wisconsin?
September 28, 2004
Elections in Iraq and Florida
President Jimmy Carter says voting conditions in Florida do not meet international standards for fairness and tells us to brace ourselves for another scandal. Meanwhile, the King of Jordan says that elections in Iraq are "impossible" under current circumstances. He predicted the insurgents would be the only victor.
What is going on here? Should we send Jeb Bush to Iraq and bring Chalabi to Florida? Sort of an AFS type exchange? Might work. Just a thought.
More guesses I guess?
Turns out the National Intelligence Council, the people who advised the president in July that things are in terrible shape in Iraq, warned the Bush administration about costly consequences of an American-led invasion two months before Bush invaded Iraq. The NY Times reports that the assessment predicted "that an American led invasion of Iraq would increase support for political Islam and would result in a deeply divided Iraqi society prone to violent internal conflict."
Also, "One of the reports warned of a possible insurgency...rogue elements from Sadddam's government could work with existing terrorist groups to wage guerilla warfare."
Bush responded to the July report by saying, "They were 'just guessing' about the future. Later, reports the Times, he changed it to "estimate."
What we now know is that there were no WMD's, no links to Al Queda, no links to 9/11, there was no nuclear capacity, and the administration had a warning that an American-led invasion could lead to guerilla war. And we plunged in anyway? Whoa Nelly!
Well, I suppose the NIC was just "guessing," but isn't it odd that things happened just as predicted?
Despite all that Bush is leading in the polls by three to five points.
September 26, 2004
The price of gasoline
The average gallon of regular unleaded gas is now $1.94 according to AAA. That is 30 cents more per gallon than it was a year ago.
So what, you say? Get this. A 30-cent per gallon increase costs Dane County $55.9 million per year. And, of course, just about all of it leaves Wisconsin. It costs Janesville $7.9 million and Madison $25 million. That ain't hay, as they say. These figures are from the UW-Extension's Center for Community Economic Development. The average family spends $240 more on gasoline this year--money they could use for the necessities.
Text, video, DVD--Bob Fest
The text of the Fighting Bob Fest speeches should be in our Documents section by the end of this week. For those who cannot wait, you can hear Bobby Kennedy's remarkable speech on the Superior Broadcast Network's Web site.
The bills are almost paid for Bob Fest III. It looks like we will owe some money but not much. If a couple hundred of you purchase the DVD's or video tapes that we produce of the speeches and sell on FightingBob.com, we will pay our bills and put a dollar or two toward Bob Fest IV. For those still enjoying the experience of last week's Bob Fest, we would encourage you to a.) Find 10 people to add to FightingBob.com's subscriber list. And, b.) Send a contribution to FightingBob.com so we can meet the $10,000 challenge grant from Anonymous. Please help us expand our subscriber list and our service to you.
I don't know about you but this year's Bob Fest was the best political event I have attended in many years. Send us your views and read Bill Berry's post-Bob Fest article.
Cost of War--Wisconsin
Keep checking our Cost of War Link and go to the latest report from the National Prioritiese Project.
The cost to Wisconsin?: 20 soldiers killed; 127 wounded; $2.6 billion as our share of the money allocated by Congress; 2,252 Reservists and National Guard troops on active duty with families disrupted, income lagging, jobs in jeopardy. And, at current rates, add $838.7 million more from Wisconsin taxpayers each year the occupation continues.
Let me see. If, nationwide, had we not spent the money on this invasion, the money spent would pay for 6.6 million 4-year scholarships at public universities and we could have hired 2.4 million more teachers for a year.
Hey, Jim Lehrer. Ask about these figures during the presidential debates. Ask about the thousands of families torn apart by this war in Iraq and on main street in America. Ask about sending soldiers into combat without body armor. Ask about our plan to get out of Iraq--when was it forumlated and who knows about it?
Wouldn't you like to ask the questions next Thursday?
Jim Lehrer--that's it?
Here is the misnomer of all times: "The Commission on Presidential Debates" (emphasis added) has issued a 32-page contract hammered out between the likes of Karl Rove and the Kerry campaign. The candidates cannot talk to one another or ask questions; the audience must sit as quietly as Colin Powell at a cabinet meeting; the viewers on TV are not permitted to drink alcholic beverages two hours in advance of the "debate."
Of course it will not be a debate at all. The "debate" will feature Jim Lehrer asking questions and the candidates responding to his soft balls. With another black-tie dinner where Washington insiders applaud one another in the offing, Lehrer knows that he must ask only safe questions if he wants a place on the dias. Like a hall monitor in the local junior high school, he must furrow his brow if John Kerry answers a question with a rising inflection.
No props, notes, or charts may be taken to the podium. Even the size and height of the podium has been dictated in advance. The coin toss? It will be 72 hours in advance. It is hard to believe these rules are established for people seeking our highest office. Afraid of surprises? C'mon. What was 9/11?
So, the only hope for anything of value would require some Tobasco sauce on Jim Lehrer's dinner on Thursday. Go out and buy a bottle and send it to Jim Lehrer at PBS. Who knows? He might ask one tough one. It gets worse--Charlie Gibson is next.
September 25, 2004
Must be a spoof
As a non-partisan organization, FightingBob.com cannot endorse candidates. But we owe it to our readers to expose obvious spoofs when we see them. It seems to be a dirty trick from the Democrats, but you decide.
A release suggests a Republican "whirlwind tour of the state" in support of concealed weapons and a veto-proof Legislature. For $500 you can view a military equipment demo, see a Llama, and then, be still my heart, "tour Senator Dave Zien's home and bomb bunker." No cameras. But perhaps the high point of the whole thing is a tour of a beef jerky plant the following day with Barbara Linton.
I'm not making this up, but it is too bizarre to be true. Must be "dirty tricks."
I am not kidding
Almost everyone in politics is concerned about Wisconsin. Will Kerry keep us blue or will Bush paint us red? Hundreds of polls, surrogate speakers roaming the state, rallies everywhere, and TV spots are flooding our airwaves.
Some in the national media have tried to shape the fight for Wisconsin as a battle between Tommy Thompson and Governor Jim Doyle, and certainly their efforts will have an impact.
The other question? Will the Republicans defeat enough Democrats to create a veto-proof Legislature.
Late Thursday, the Governor's office announced that Jim Doyle is taking off on a trade mission to Japan until October 1. I am not making this up.
September 24, 2004
GuestBlog: By Bill Kraus
Talk show host: I understand you are anti-choice.
Candidate: I am pro-life.
Talk show host: Then you think that Roe v Wade should be overturned.
Talk show host: This would create a vacuum on the choice question. How would you fill it?
Candidate: Legislation should be passed outlawing abortion.
Talk show host: What penalties should the legislation call for?
Talk show host: You know, women are going to break this law. What will be they be prosecuted for? Murder? Accessory to murder? Conspiring to murder? What?
Editor's note: This is a composite version of several interviews conducted with several candidates on a Madison radio station. Candidates' responses to the last question ranged from dead silence through "We'll talk about that later," to "I don't know; how about a year in jail?"
The latter elicited this response from the talk show host: "For murder?"
More good news
When the Department of Corrections settled the class-action lawsuit brought by inmates at the Supermax prison in Boscobel, they agreed to improve conditions in that awful place. Because no air can circulate in the prison, fans would not work to cool it to a humane temperature. By the state's admission, the only way to live up to their agreement to reduce temperatures to a "balmy" 84 degrees would be by installing an air conditioning system. The DOC refused, lawyers for the prisoners spent lots of time returning to court to seek a court order, and when Judge Crabb ordered the state to live up to the settlement the DOC incredibly appealed to the 7th Circuit.
All of this costs lots of money on both sides. The 7th Circuit upheld Judge Crabb's order, and, believe it or not, the system will be ready next year.
More good news. A new monitor has been appointed. Walter Dickey, former Secretary of DOC and law professor at the UW, has taken the reins. A new spirit of cooperation is expected. Progress is slow and expensive, but steady.
September 23, 2004
Bill Moyers' "Now" had an interview with returning soldier Richard Murphy. I urge you to go to the Web site featuring Murphy and others who are telling the truth about Iraq: www.optruth.org. It will be worth your while.
Polls: Is that it?
Polls show Bush way ahead, some show him tied, others appear confused, some show Nader with 4 percent, some with none, while some show Bush flip-flopping, others show Kerry in same boat or surf board. Should we just have one grand poll on November 2 instead of an election? Think of the person hours we could save.
Two things need to be said. The polls that are way off the mark will be forgotten on November 3. There will be no apologies from the newspapers, TV networks or pundits; indeed, they will not even mention it. And, someone will emerge as the new guru because he guessed right. And, of course, we will hear ad nauseum the analysis of why the voters fooled the pollsters.
Second, would it be asking too much of our mainstream corporate (kept) media to deal with issues instead of Dan Rather? If Rather is on the ballot, vote for him or against him. If he is not, would you mind getting back to whether or not we are headed for a draft?
September 22, 2004
Forget the presidential campaign, the disaster unfolding in Iraq, the latest poll showing Kerry and Bush in a dead heat in Wisconsin, the lead story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on September 21 was, "Study calls for state spending restraints." The "study" was issued by the right-wing Bradley Foundation front that calls itself the "Wisconsin Policy Research Institute." The rhetoric of the "study" fits right into WTMJ's very own Charlie Sykes morning screeds in favor of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR).
Sykes calls Mary Panzer and other moderate Republicans who sensibly oppose TABOR "Republicans in Name Only," or RINO's. The MJS article will give Sykes material for weeks, and the Vegas odds are that Charlie will not mention that he is a "Bradley Fellow" or that the "study" was a Bradley propoganda piece.
Reporter Steve Walters failed to mention the source of WPRI funding, but, of course, his article was quickly featured on WisPolitics.com, the Web site of choice for conservative legislators and corporate lobbyists.
Round and round it goes. From Bradley's WPRI to Journal Communication's MJS to Bradley/MJS right-wing talk host Sykes. Yikes! Today? Forget Bush's speech at the U.N. and the icy response from the delegates, the headline is, "Doyle may raise fishing license fees" (and I'm not kidding.)
Ah,the wages of monopoly.
Bob Fest report
While not complete, it looks like attendees at Bob Fest were generous enough to pay all costs. The 4,000 or so attendees deposited more than $6,000 in the canisters, bought $4,000 worth of coffee cups, Fighting Bob progressive mustard, and water bottles. Organizers operate on faith alone, and it was rewarded.
Stu Levitan on Air America in Madison has been replaying the speeches at Bob Fest as well as continuing to do his excellent interviews. He asked Senator Tom Harkin how he views his vote in favor of the Patriot Act. Harkin responded, "That vote was the worst decision I've made in public life. I will be there to fight it."
WOJB covered Bob Fest live and is also running the speeches for their listeners. The good feeling keeps flowing.
September 21, 2004
Any diversion will do
Hard to recall that Lt. Bush got into the National Guard in 1968 via political influence. There he flew for a while, partied a lot, got bored and was assigned to the Alabama Guard unit where he worked as political director for a Republican senatorial candidate. He did not show up for duty. How do we know? If Karl Rove could find one breathing soul to verify that he was on duty, that person would be guaranteed a spot in the White House. (Gary Trudeau offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who saw him on duty in Alabama.)
Bad enough that he got in through family influence; worse that he did not keep his word or do his duty; but today he is responsible for taking National guardsmen and guardswomen into combat ill-prepared, without body armor and without a plan to get them out.
Republican Senator Lugar said Sunday they are incompetent; Republican Hagel said, "We are in deep trouble"; Joe Biden said, "The president has not done one thing to help--there is not one trained cop in Iraq after 17 months."
How to avoid the incompetence, the lost war, and the National Guard lie? Easy, feed some documents to Dan Rather and focus on CBS. It was Rather, you recall, who said after 9/11: "He is my Commander-in-Chief. Tell me where to line up and I'll do it." Rather out did them all in his support for the war. Calling him a journalist is absurd, and Karl Rove played him like an old tune. Ah yes, the kept media will do almost anything to get the team re-elected.
Gather round the piano and listen as Rove plays old favorites.
September 20, 2004
The media is AWOL
What would the corporate media do without force-fed polls to report on? They do not waste time at Bob Fest, the largest political gathering in recent Wisconsin history, that is for certain.
Get this: The Capital Times, Wisconsin Public Radio, Air America, WORT in Madison, and even the London-based Guardian sent reporters to Bob Fest. Not the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal, or any of the 12 Gannett papers in Wisconsin.
And WOJB out-did them all by carrying Bob Fest live for listeners of that superb community radio station. Do you wonder now and then what else we are missing? If Russ Feingold had said that "we are in deep trouble in Iraq" instead of Republican Chuck Hagel, would we have heard the tree fall in the forest? Get your friends to subscribe to FightingBob.com.
September 19, 2004
Bob Fest Report: A+
Some 3,600 people were on their feet when Bobby Kennedy Jr. finished his speech at Fighting Bob Fest on Saturday. It was politics, some religion, and lots of heartfelt concern about the gradual destruction of our enviornment. He has the Kennedy magic, and the crowd loved him.
Tom Harkin set a high standard a few hours earlier, and if rankings for such things were given, he was at the top of his game. Always a favorite of Badger politicos, Harkin, introduced by Midge Miller, reminded us why government must provide hope and help. He authored the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and said, "We provided no money but we built ramps for the future." For those who climb the ladder of success, Harkin urged that they "leave the ladder in place for those yet to climb." He was all that we could have hoped for in a keynote.
More than 4,000 people attended altogether. Great food, good Wisconsin beer, more than 50 organizations were on hand to push their agendas, one great speech after another from Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore, John Nichols, Bob McChesney, Peg Lautenschlager, Stan Gruszynski, and the most entertaining speaker in America, Jim Hightower. It was a thrill to behold.
Don't expect to read about it in the corporate media. This was way too interesting and provocative for them. That is another reason we have FightingBob.com.
President Bush did not respond to our invitation, nor did Ralph Nader. David Cobb of the Green Party was the only nominee for president to appear.
On to Bob Fest IV!
Kevin Phillips on Bush
Kevin Phillips appeared on "Now with Bill Moyers" Friday night. Moyers asked about the National Guard story and Phillips said the story is that young W. was given the rank of 2nd Lt. without ROTC or Officer's Basic--something unusual to say the least. In other words, he was militarily illiterate--and proved it by sending National Guard trops to Iraq without body armor--and in his own case, "he was the National Guard equivalent of AWOL."
Check out "Now" on the PBS Web site. look in particular for the interview with returning National Guard soldier Richard Murphy. Stunning.
September 17, 2004
GuestBlog: By Bill Kraus
A Tale of Two Districts
Mary Panzer's response to the primary challenge mounted by Glenn Grothman, reputedly suborned by the right-to-life faction, was to try to prove that she was more of a conservative than he was.
A perfectly respectable moderate with a long history of not succumbing to extremists' pressure did not believe that the support of those voters could overcome the zealous anti-choicers and taxophobics to whom the Grothman campaign was pitched. She tried, instead, to out-Grothman Grothman.
Several miles northwest of Mary's district, a half-term freshman named Louis Molepske faced a primary challenge as well. Louis is a Democrat. He is pro-choice, anti-TABOR, and anti-gun. His challenger was also a Democrat, but took the pro-life, pro-gun, pro-TABOR Grothman route to what he hoped would be victory.
Louis stuck with the positions and the people who had got him to the Legislature in the first place.
Nothing is as simple as this, and the size of Glenn Grothman's victory (79 percent to 21 percent) indicates something else was going on in that district, but there does seem to be a message here about being who you are and playing your own game.
September 16, 2004
A People's Legislature
Once upon a time, there were more legislators in our Capitol than lobbyists. Today, with 802 registered lobbyists, the lobbyists outnumber the legislators by more than 6-1.
More importantly, the lobbyists have what legislators want: money, polls, money and polls. All the legislators have to do is go along to get along. Easy.
When people come to the Capitol with their agenda of sappy stuff like clean air and water, sensible growth, smaller class sizes, lower university tuition, and campaign reform, they are treated like a nuisance. The Capitol police are notified to watch for trouble.
Nobody notifies police when the well dressed lobbyists come in to take money from the public treasury, but that is a different story. (Pretty Boy Floyd must have known some lobbyists when he said, "Well through this world I ramble I've met some funny men. Some will rob you with a six-gun and some with a fountain pen.")
A multi-partisan group calling themselves The Politically Homeless, have an idea to form a People's Legislature. Read the introduction as your homework for Fighting Bob Fest this Saturday. A panel will discuss the concept at the Fest and put into words an idea that can be implemented.
See you Saturday. Lobbyists need not register in advance.
Have you noticed that the insurgency in Iraq is no longer front-page news? Things are not going well, so the mainstream media focuses on Hurricane Ivan or almost anything else. Three days ago an oil pipeline was set on fire and that caused a melt-down of the entire electric grid. Hundreds of Iraqis were killed, many cities have been declared off-limits for American soldiers, but back to Hurricane Ivan.
With Don Rumsfeld confusing Saddam with Osama in a speech to the National Press Club, would it occur to anyone that things are somewhat out of control? Where's the plan? Who is in charge?
September 15, 2004
So much news, but I must start with Gwen Moore's solid victory in Milwaukee. This Democratic district will have the opportunity to send the first African American to Congress in our state's history.
Moore assembled a grassroots progressive campaign and got 65 percent of the vote. Congratulations to Gwen, Kathleen Hart and lots of Fighting Bob friends.
And in Superior, arguably the most progressive and courageous member of the Assembly, and another Fighting Bob contributor, Frank Boyle, won a solid victory. He was opposed by DLC Democrats who put up a former sheriff to run against Frank who is assured of a victory in November.
Another our friends, Megan Yost, ran a door-to-door campaign in the 47th Assembly District and won with 61 percent of the vote. Mark Miller won over another progressive, Tom Hebl.
Finally, the pro-school-voucher crowd in Milwaukee lost in their effort to outst Lena Taylor from the State Senate. Lena easily won the primary.
It was a good night for progressives. On to Bob Fest!
September 14, 2004
Nichols & Cheney
You should prepare for Bob Fest by going to Borders in Madison--3750 University Avenue--to hear our FightingBob.com contributing editor John Nichols read from his wonderful new book, Dick: The Man Who Is President. The reading is Wednesday night at 7:00.
You will enjoy the experience and the book. Greg Palast, no wall flower himself, says "a nasty tale of Cheney's creepy manipulations." See you at Borders.
September 13, 2004
World vote? Kerry wins!
Mark Kleiman reports on a survey of 35,000 people in 35 countries. Since the president of the U.S. is the most important person in the world in terms of war, peace and economic development, perhaps everyone should voice an opinion.
The results in Norway and Germany: 74 percent Kerry; France 64 percent and Canada 61 percent. Kerry won in 10 of the 12 "Coalition of the Willing" countries but was behind Bush in Poland, Nigeria, and Phillippines.
Is this important? We used to think our image abroad was important, but the neo-cons tell us it doesn't matter. Fear is more important. Yah, sure, Ole.
Last night we kicked off Bob Fest week with a bang. Utah Phillps, the incomparable story teller and folk singer, entertained, educated and inspired the crowd. Onward to Saturday!
September 12, 2004
Bob Fest and more
The Madison Institute showed Hijacking Catastrophe yesterday at the Historical Society. Narrated by Julian Bond and produced by the Media Education Foundation this video is a scary and realistic view of how the radical wing of the Republican Party has used the trauma of 9/11 to advance a radical agenda in foreign and domestic policy. Tapes will be available at Fighting Bob Fest next Saturday.
Tonight Utah Phillips kicks off Bob Fest week with a concert at the Orpheum. Tickets are available at the box office for the 7:00 p.m. concert.
Read "What is a progressive, anyway?" and "A Fighting Bob Fest primer," and then respond to Gail Lamberty's challenge to list three things you will ask progressives to do at Bob Fest.
Quite a week ahead. See you tonight with Utah and Saturday in Baraboo.
Sheep bite Shepherd
In a man-bites-dog scenario, only in Milwaukee would the weekly alternative progressive newspaper the Shepherd Express endorse the establishment candidate for the 4th Congressional District while the establishment Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorses progressive state Senator Gwen Moore. Was this an experiment where the two editorial boards switched places for a week?
Matt Flynn, a Quarles & Brady lawyer with lots of cash and all the right connections, was the surprise recepient of Shepherd publisher Louis Fortis' endorsemenet.
To say that the Shepherd endorsement was controversial in the progressive community would understate. The Shepherd would not print an alternative view from long-time activist Charlie Dee. So the battle of the titans will be decided on Tuesday.
Should Moore, a speaker at Fighting Bob Fest II and III, win, it would be the first time Wisconsin would have a minority in its congressional delegation in 156 years of statehood.
September 11, 2004
Primary day coming fast
Don't forget to vote on Tuesday. Most of the interesting races are on the Republican side of the ballot, but there are some important races among Democrats as well. Two Assemblymen are vying to replace Chuck Chvala in the state Senate: Mark Miller and Tom Hebl. Sondy Pope-Roberts and Bob Ziegelbauer face a primary challenges from progressives Bob Menamin and Anne-Marie Woznicki, respectively. And there is the challenge to progressive Frank Boyle in Superior from a conservative former Sheriff.
I received two calls yesterday. One message from Bob Welch reminding me that he supports vouchers and guns and the other from "the right Russ" Darrow. Somehow, I think the robo-phone messages are the least useful campaign tool since match books went out of vogue.
But, who will face Russ Feingold? Will Mary Panzer be ousted by the most conservative Rep. in the Assembly?
In Milwaukee, will the voters send our first African American to Congress? This is worth watching, folks.
Hooray for Harkin and Obey
The House passed the Obey overtime protection amendment yesterday with 22 Republicans joining all the Democrats. The Senate version, sponsored by Fighting Bob Fest keynote speaker Tom Harkin, passed earlier. Finally, some good news from Washington for a change.
Not voting to protect millions of Americans were Jim Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan, Mark Green and Tom Petri. There is an old labor song that pops into my head on such occasions: "Which side are you on?"
September 10, 2004
It is hard to imagine a better way to warm up for Fighting Bob Fest than a Utah Phillips concert. This Sunday, September 12, 7:00 at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, I will have the privilege of introducing this storytelling folk legend.
See you there.
GuestBlog: By Bill Kraus
It's the votes, stupid
Those who wonder why the Bush campaign makes no serious effort to reach out to the pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-gay marriage constituencies are not paying attention to the way politics is being played in this new millennium.
As far as the Bush campaign is concerned, those voters are gone. If they are dedicated Republicans, they may be so offended by being snubbed that they simply will not vote. But the more pragmatic view is that they are Democrats who are going to vote for Kerry for other reasons as well as these. These votes and voters are irretrievable.
And furthermore, there is a risk of playing to them. This may alienate the "my way, all the way, or no way" factions that have become crucial to the Bush campaign (to all campaigns for that matter) for one compelling reason: They vote.
Until and unless the moderate middle, the politically homeless vote in large enough numbers to be worth the candidates' attention, this is the way the political world is going to work.
The power has shifted and shifted dramatically to the single issue, hard-line factions, and that is the game the candidates have to play.
Want to change the game? Start voting in numbers too large to be ignored.
September 9, 2004
Wish I had thought of that
Lee Kalcheim, author of the play Defiled, recently wrote an op-ed piece for the NY Times on polls. As we are bombarded by polls, some legitimate, some contrived, some absurd, Kalcheim listed a series of imaginary polls. Here are two examples from Kalcheim's article:
"63 percent of single women over 50 think Kerry is too tall for his own good. 71 percent of divorced women say George Bush would be an excellent ex-husband."
"98 percent of hearing impaired like 50 percent of what they hear from George Bush."
Mine would be this: 98 percent of the adults I know would prefer debates over 30-second TV spots 100 percent of the time.
September 8, 2004
Getting rough out there
In my experience, confident incumbents pretty much ignore their opponents and repeat ad nauseum their accomplishments in office. When I ran against Tommy Thompson in 1998, it was almost impossible to lure him into a debate and when we did he insisted it be shown at the same time as the Badgers' homecoming game. (Recall your sophomore year--"If a tree falls...")
But Bush and now Cheney have re-written the book. The title would be, "If you have nothing good to say, attack." Yesterday, Dick Cheney actually predicted terrorist attacks on America if John Kerry is elected. Not since the days of Joe McCarthy have we witnessed such utter disregard for the truth.
What motivates Cheney to make such outrageous remarks? I turned to John Nichols' new book, DICK: The Man Who is President, and the very first quote from Cheney says a lot: "Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It's a nice way to operate, actually."
My conclusion is that the self-described "evil genius" wanted to divert attention from the fact that 1,000 soldiers have died on his watch. Ten thousand have serious injuries. The Pentagon now admits the U.S. has lost control of much of Iraq and has no plan to recapture the country.
It is preposterous that the vice president would make a prediction about impending disaster when he did little to avoid disaster during the past four years. But remember--attack, attack, attack.
September 6, 2004
Rights at Risk
The theme for this year's Fighting Bob Fest is "Rights at Risk." We are, of course, talking about the right of a woman to choose; the right of children to a good public education; the rights of minorities to fully participate in our economic and political life; the right of citizens of this country and, indeed, the world, to clean air, water, and sensible growth.
Tom Harkin, Peg Lautenschlager, Jim Hightower, John Nichols, Bob McChesney, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Tammy Baldwin, Gerald Bracey and others will lay out their view of the risks, but now we ask you to write to FightingBob.com and give your views on the risks and the top three things you will do to fight for our rights.
Last year Hightower said the best political button of all said "Wearing a Button is Not Enough!" Progressives must become aggressive in fighting to take back our country. So give us your thoughts and get ready for a great day on Saturday, September 18 in Baraboo.
Thank you, Clay-Price
We are delighted to announce the largest grant ever received by FightingBob.com. The Clay-Price Family Fund announced a $15,000 grant to help keep FightingBob.com alive and well. John Taylor administers the fund and he told us the grant will help to "expose the people of Wisconsin to diverse views. FightingBob has become an important voice and we are pleased to lend our support."
Thank you, Clay-Price and John Taylor. This grant will help us to improve our research capacity and provide more in-depth coverage of issues confronting Wisconsin. Clay-Price, the Evjue Foundation, and many of our subscribers have given us a great opportunity, and we will not let them down.
When we started in February of 2003 we didn't know if we could find the authors, volunteers and supporters to give voice to a progressive online opinion magazine. We are getting there.
September 5, 2004
Friends, Badgers, countrypeople...
Once again we pause to thank our friends for helping to build FightingBob.com. In response to our very generous anonymous donor who pledged $10,000 if we can match the donation, money has begun coming in and we thank you.
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September 4, 2004
It seemse like it would be a very easy transition from car dealer to politician. Just think of all those used car deals as prologue. But in politics people remember promises made and they find out facts the salesman would rather keep to himself. For example, Spivak & Bice found out that despite a $1.1 million salary in 2002, "Darrow paid absolutely nothing. Zero, zip, nada" in state income taxes. Nice deal.
Then he announced he has a new position on abortion. No longer would he permit a woman to choose in cases of rape or incest. (I'm not making this up.) Not a good week for Russ Darrow. Next week he may call for an end to taxes so we can all join him in the club.
I don't often disagree with our guest blogger, Bill Kraus, but I take issue with his suggestion that the demonstrators at the RNC would have done more good by going door-to-door somewhere. This was the largest demonstration at a political convention in history.
And, while police chief Kelly praised the demonstrators for "keeping their word by remaining peaceful," more than 1,700 were arrested. Perhaps the police could have been doing something more useful than arresting all these people. You know, like fighting crime.
People who oppose the invasion of Iraq or other issues have precious few ways to vent that frustration. They sing, march, speak and become inspired. They learn how difficult and dangerous it is to oppose the powers that be. A good friend of ours was arrested for standing outside a Hummer sales office with a sign. I suspect that arrest will alter her career path. (A sit-in in Jackson, Mississippi, changed mine.) She won't forget nor should we.
So I say Bravo to the demonstators and a special thanks to Democracy Now for covering the demonstrations while commercial TV and PBS ignored real life on the outside of Madison Square Gardens. No one suggested that those on the inside "kept their word," and they apparently have no plans to remain peaceful.
September 3, 2004
GuestBlog: By Bill Kraus
To demonstrate or not to demonstrate
Demonstrators past did a couple of things that advanced their causes. The civil rights demonstrators exposed a lot of dirt that had been swept under a lot of rugs. The anti-Vietnam demonstrators were so numerous that the idea of re-examining why we were there and whether or not we should get out had to be dealt with.
The anti-Bush demonstrators who are making life difficult for New Yorkers this week are telling us something we already know. There is a very large Anybody But Bush segment out there. What we do not know is whether it is big enough to win the election for John Kerry. And no amount of demonstrators or demonstrating is going to tell us that. We will find out in November. So why are they demonstrating?
A longtime New Yorker and Democrat who raised this question to me suggests that there is a possibility that the demonstrators could be doing their cause and their candidate a disservice by raising the question "Do I really want these people to be running the country?" among the undecided and indifferent.
Maybe they should be going door to door somewhere instead.
September 2, 2004
Tragic electoral result in Florida
The designer of the butterfly ballot in West Palm Beach, Florida, that was responsible for the claim that Bush carried Florida and led to John Nichols' funny-but-true book Jews for Buchanan, lost her reelection bid yesterday.
She said, "I just want to win so I can continue doing the job I love." No kidding.
Calling all men
So, what's with this Schwarzenegger nonsense calling those who question our economy "Girlie men?" Buttons on some delegates had "girlie men" with a line through it, but what is the message?
Is Alan Keyes the translator? He condemned gays and lesbians for, in his words, "selfish hedonism"? Is Arnold attacking gays or is he insulting women or both? Do women, in his world, stand for weakness and thus men who criticize Bush are like women and therefore weak?
My favorite Vince Lombardi clip is from a mometn when the coach was obviously annoyed, hollering "What the hell is going on around here?" It was not really a question. So women and gays at the Republican convention should, in my view, make the same statement--"What the hell is going on around here?" All feminists should be appalled by this "girlie man" nonsense. I am.
September 1, 2004
So you thought an independent Department of Natural Resources was bad? You supported bringing the DNR into the governor's cabinet? Just ask the good citizens of Beaver Dam, members of Citizens for Open Government (COG).
Last night they attended a "hearing" on the Wal-Mart clean-air permit application. Citizens were allowed to speak but not cross-examine anyone. Wal-Mart had about 20 people there, but they chose to remain silent. And why not? The DNR folks patted COG on the head and informed them that DNR could do nothing to protect the environment. I am not making this up. While the DNR could talk to Wal-Mart, they could not protect air, water, wells, or deal with other problems.
This was a pathetic display of business controlling government. The words that will remain with me came from the presiding DNR attorney. In talking to COG, he said, "We are not your advocates." He said it.
Bob La Follette would not recognize this Wisconsin.
September is here
Seventeen days until we gather in Baraboo for Bob Fest number 3. We have had two great programs and the third is almost here. With the addition of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to the program we have a tremendous array of talent on a variety of issues.
Our theme "Rights at Risk" will providee the framework. The right to clean air and water; the right to excellent public schools for all; the right to speak freely and to dissent without fear; our right to elect our leaders. I'm getting excited.
We need to make a plan for the future. Got some ideas? See you in Baraboo.