March 31, 2005
Asthma is not so bad!
Hey, we can live with asthma if we have to in order to create jobs. C'mon folks, a little sacrifice for the commonwealth. Tell your kids to "get tough" because life isn't fair and econmic growth will only occur in a society without regulation.
That should be the announcement from Speaker Gard (R-Pestigo/Sun Prairie), Representative Jean Hundertmark, Senator Dale Schultz and Governor Doyle as they unveiled, get this, "Job Creation Act II." For a lesson in how the Lobbyist's Legislature works, study this one.
Another WMC-sponsored draft is approved in the back room by the "leaders" of the Lobbyist's Legislature and the governor. The draft is dumped into the hopper on Tuesday and the "hearing" is scheduled for Wednesday. Who knows the details or when it will come up? You guessed it--only the lobbyists who drafted it in the first place.
While the environmentalists cry "Foul!" the old saying comes to mind that "A lie gets half way around the world before Truth gets her boots on." This latest horror story will place Wisconsin's air quality standards below the federal standards. Now there is a goal worth fighting for! Rep. Hundertmark said, "The Job Creation Act was a great start but more needs to be done." Yikes! Go home Hundertmark. Do no more harm. That is what is really needed.
(FightingBob.com has learned a startling fact: Turns out these business lobbyists have no children or grandchildren so they don't have to worry about the long-range health consequences of their actions.)
Go home. Do no more harm. Stop the train. Bye-bye. See you in Milwaukee at the next People's Legislature.
March 30, 2005
Who said it would be easy?
Let's review the record in Iraq for a moment. We invaded the country to avoid a mushroom shaped cloud and to destroy other WMD's that could, according to Tony Blair, reach the west in 45 minutes. And, of course, we invaded because Saddam was as a threat to our security, had been involved in the 9/11 attacks, trained terrorists and tortured his own people. All of these reasons, except the torture one, have since been ruled out with lots of finger pointing. We know that Bush and Cheney were determined to "wag the dog" soon after election and so they operated under the guideline of "any excuse will do."
When their lies came to light, they said, oh no, it wasn't WMDs at all it was our desire to spread democracy throughout the Middle East, and once the Iraqi elections were held a new Bush doctrine was born in the bowels of the Wall Street Journal: The raised purple finger became the symbol of that success story.
Tuesday's New York Times reports that all hell broke loose in the National Assembly with fights over oil, Kirkuk and the role of Islam. No one, it seems, thinks they can adopt a constitution in August. Even Sistani's lead politician says there is no time. It is a mess.
The response of the Bush administration? Focus on Terri Schiavo, Michael Jackson, anything other than Iraq. Anything including praise for the Afghan role in the war on drugs. This is quite a show, but people keep dying, our soldiers are in harm's way, and there are more and more scandals related to torture of Iraqis--but not from Saddam. From our forces. This is a nightmare.
March 29, 2005
I strongly recommend you read "Kicking the tires" by Guy Wolf. It gives you hope when others might have given up. The grassroots effort in Preston, Minnesota included 7,000 petitioners, letters, protests, and help from Mayo Clinic and Midwest Environmental Advocates resulted in a nice victory for clean air and local citizens. We call it fighting the powers that be and the powers that be called it "succcumbing to mob rule." Make your choice.
Well done Guy Wolf.
March 28, 2005
I'll have what he's having
The famous line from When Harry Met Sally (close anyway) comes to mind as I read articles about the new, relaxed, impish George W. Bush. Solo news conferences, a wink for Maureen Dowd, a comment to a Belgian reporter that "you have great eyes" tells some reporters that this is the more confident free-wheeling guy we will come to love.
Well, if he is on something, I'd like some of it myself. Read this paragraph from Bob Herbert: "There is no longer any doubt that prisoners seized by the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have been killed, tortured, sexually humiliated and otherwise grotesquely abused...people have been rounded up, stripped, shackled, beaten, incarcerated and in some cases killed without being offered even the semblance of due process. No charges. No lawyers. No appeals."
Wow! That is our country. Yours and mine. What did German citizens know before WW II about prison camps and what do we know? What did they do and what are we doing while the president seems to be flirting with foreign correspondents, appointing rightwing nuts to our federal courts for lifetime appointments, and giving off an aura of newly found confidence while our national debt swings wildly out of control? And what of the opposition party? Are we all complicit in our nation's outrageous behavior? Can there be any response other than "yes"?
This is scary for us and for the world. A president who appears increasingly happy as his poll numbers sink and the death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan mount. This is our watch folks. It is being done "in our name." Recall Elie Weisel: "The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference to evil."
March 27, 2005
PBS's "Now" quoted John Kenneth Galbraith who said, "I can't think of a single new reform proposed by liberals in 20 years." That one got me. Think about it? War on Poverty, Voting Rights, ERA, Earth Day--it has been a long time.
Send us your new reforms. Let's stop talking about Bush. What's left that hasn't been said?
Happy Easter or Spring or Renewal. Time for new thoughts and big plans.
March 26, 2005
Overplaying the hand
The incredible and furious pace of court challenges in the unsuccessful effort to prolong Terri Schiavo's life has been breath taking. I know what it costs to go to court and it ain't cheap. Think about the parents of Terri Schiavo and ask who is paying for the Florida court cases and appeals, two trips to Federal District Court, lobbying Congress and the president, two appeals to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, back to Florida courts and all in the space of a week. If the Schiavo's were footing the bill my estimate is somewhere between $250,000 and half a million in legal fees.
Nothing wrong with leaning on your friends or ideologically sympathetic non-profit groups, but it would be nice to know who is behind the effort.
Whether or not we ever find out who paid for all of this, the opponents of death with dignity have done us a favor. Who would have predicted that 70 percent of the American people support the decision to permit a mentally dead person to stop breathing? That we, as a people, fear death much less than we fear being kept "alive" by a machine long after all meaning of life has disappeared? That 68 percent resent the GOP and the president's political interference in this intensely personal decision. (And wonder aloud if the Democrats have disappeared.)
As is often the case, the people are way out in front of the politicians who worry more about campaign contributions than their real constituents. So I guess we also have to thank those who care little about death from disease due to lack of medical care but care much about a highly politicized case of a woman in Florida.
March 25, 2005
Some Fighting Bob fun
Our second low-key fundraiser will be held on April 5 in Madison. Details will follow later. We will be celebrating FightingBob.com's second birthday and, more to the point, having some fun with fellow progressives as we prepare for the 4th Fighting Bob Fest on September 10 at our old stomping grounds, the Sauk County Fair Grounds.
This year we will be discussing the next phase for the People's Legislature where real people debate real issues in search of real answers. This, of course, sets us apart from the Lobbyist's Legislature now improperly occupying the people's Capitol, where the likes of Bob La Follette and Gaylord Nelson once pushed for social and economic justice. To quote Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's Mike McCabe, "The building will be returned to the people when the money-changers are expelled from the temple."
So plan to join us for fun, music and good discussion on the 5th of April and the 10th of September.
March 24, 2005
While Wisconsin's Lobbyists' Legislature bobs like a cork in a sea of corruption, Scott Jensen found time to reassure the people of the state. I'm not making this up: Upon word that his felony trial may proceed, the former Thompson aid and former speaker of the Assembly (not to mention current member of the all-powerful Joint Finance Committee) issued a statement that said, "While I'm disappointed that the charges weren't dismissed, I'm pleased that half of the Supreme Court agreed with our position."
While some may question Jensen's math given that there are seven members of the court and only two voted to dismiss, he gathered his wits and said, "Each time we have made our case (to the people of Wisconsin) they have sided with us." Really? I was totally unaware of the submission of these charges to the people, but hey, perhaps the lobbyists know something we don't.
Let's see. The former chair of Democratic Party pleads guilty to felony; once powerful Senator Gary George is in prison; former leading AG candidate Brian Burke is headed for criminal trial, leaders of both caucuses are going to trial, and the Legislature (Lobbyists' not People's) points fingers at "unrealistic" reformers who want money out of politics.
As Mark Russell says, who needs comedy writers? Watching this show is all you need.
March 23, 2005
The arrogance of power
Many moons ago, the Democratic Farm-Labor Party won every seat on the Minneapolis City Council. While that seemed like a good thing, I remember running into an old friend, now departed, David Graven, who told me he did not think so. My first campaign experience in Minnesota was in support of David when he ran for Governor.
David puffed on his pipe a moment and said, "It is not probability a party without serious opposition will destroy itself, it is a certainty." And, true to his prediction, the DFL headed into decline for a long stretch.
The rightwing Republicans control all three branches of federal government and they appear intoxicated with power. The Schiavo intervention is a case in point. To please the so-called neo-cons, Congress and the president flew to Washington to intervene in the removal of the feeding tube. A balanced government would have kept to its own business. As moderate Republican Chris Shays said, "My party is for state's rights unless they don't like what states are doing."
In this case, 70 percent of those polled think the neo-cons have gone too far and 68 percent think removal of the feeding tube made sense. But when you are in complete control, you do not care what people think. You are the biggest kid on the block. It is your ball and your bat.
Graven was right in the 1970s and I firmly believe hubris will take down this crowd as well.
March 22, 2005
The Daily Show
They say laughter before bed is a great way to relax and that it helps one to sleep better. In that case, John Stewart is must viewing. Last night, with a video clip of our very own Congressman James Sensenbrenner waxing ineloquent, Stewart asked, "How sick must you be for Congress to intervene?" The answer: "You must be in a persistent vegetative state incapable of thought or emotion."
There is nothing humorous about the awesome decisions faced by Terri Schiavo's doctors and husband. And internal family disagreements over when life is over should never be taken lightly. That said, when Congress does nothing about national health care with millions going without health insurance while the president is trying to cut $40 billion from Medicaid, they become obvious targets for parody. They rush through a bill federalizing one of life's most personal decisions so they can pose for the cameras.
I doubt there is a hell, but if there is one, my nominees for it would be politicians who fool around with life without a thought for the real victims. This is another national disgrace and it isn't over yet despite the district court's correct decision.
March 21, 2005
Because of the People's Legislative session in Cable, we missed most of the protests "celebrating" the anniversary of "shock and awe." But in Hayward, the protestors were in full-throat and lots of honking horns with thumbs up.
What a disgrace. Think about it. Our country is either laughed at, pitied, or hated throughout most of the world and then we give them the "Bronx Cheer." Bush appoints an enemy of the U.N. as our ambassador who wrote that there should only be one member of the Security Council. (Guess which country and win a trip to Guantanemo.) Bush sends an enemy of peace to head the world bank.
How quickly we see a century of good will disappear. Can you even remember the human rights record of Jimmy Carter? What have we become? Detained prisoners without lawyers or even an understanding of the charges. Torture. Can it get worse? I'm afraid the answer is yes so get ready for more protests.
The sad anniversary
We were in Cable for the People's Legislature so we missed most of the demonstrations against the two-year old invasion of Iraq, but driving through Hayward a boistrous crowd was protesting this awful misadventure.
You know the stats so I won't repeat them. But even more troubling is the fact that the United States, alone in the world, continues to justify the invasion. This is truly an invasion in seach of a reason while the suffering goes on and a nation focuses on Michael Jackson and "March Madness" on the basketball court.
Have we learned anything? Well President Bush, feigning an interest in world cooperation, traveled to Europe asking for cooperation only to come home to appoint an enemy of the U.N. as our "ambassador" and a enemy of peace to the World Bank. What is the message? Same as it was when "shock and awe" began. We are so smart and powerful we don't need anyone else. Sad moment. So, we should pause for a moment of silence to honor those who serve, those who died, and those injured, and to take a moment to ask what we have become.
March 20, 2005
The People speak again
The people in the beautiful northwestern part of our state took their turn with the People's Legislature (TPL) Saturday. I drove through one of the worst snowstorms in recent Wisconsin history to get there, but it was worth it. There was an exciting commitment to TPL; if there were any doubts the idea would take root, those doubts disappeared long before noon.
The agenda was broader than in the Madison and La Crosse sessions, although electoral reform was enthusiastically endorsed from complete public financing of elections, non-partisan drawing of district lines, and an ethics and elections board taken from politician control and given over to citizen control.
Given the dominance of the proposed Weston to Arrowhead extension cord, PSC ears should have been ringing. Many spoke out for the idea of electing PSC members, instead of appointing them.
It was an exciting discussion, and by the end of the day, regional reps to TPL had been elected, a structure was adopted, and bold plans for the future were laid out. TPL is slowly taking shape from the bottom up. It was non-partisan more than multi-partisan. The Libertarians were missing, due to their state convention and, face it, it ain't easy finding Republicans in northwestern Wisconsin. But the Greens were actively involved and pushed instant run-off voting to the applause of the delegates.
An important step forward. (And, need I say, fun. Lots of laughs as usual.)
March 18, 2005
Election fix will be back
So sayeth Mike Ellis who co-sponsored a bill to "fix" our corrupt political system. Or did he? Senator Judy Robson pinned the trunk on the elephant when she said, "Sponsors of the bill put together a sham bill. This is a bipartisan problem and it requires a bipartisan solution."
Ellis belongs to the majority party in the Senate. Had his party voted for his "fix" it would be on the way to the lead reformers in the Assembly, current speaker John Gard (R-Peshtigo/Sun Prairie) and former speaker Scott Jensen. Almost two-thirds of the senators are Republicans, but Ellis blamed Democrats and wayward reformers like Mike McCabe for defeating his milquetoast nod in the direction of reform.
Who needs fake news when real coverage of fake reform is alive and well? The Ellis army also blamed Jim Doyle and made it clear that Doyle opposed the bill because he would be limited to $4 million in spending in 2006. "Clearly, this is the long arm of Gov. Jim Doyle," claimed Ellis in the MJS. Really? C'mon Mike. We can read the fine print as well as you can write it. Your bill would have limited Doyle only if he voluntarily agreed to public financing of his campaign and he is not crazy. There would be no money in the public financing campaign fund under your bill so no one would rely on it, certainly not "King of the Dough" as songster-pundit Peter Leidy calls the governor.
But the media seems to buy the Ellis line because, one supposes, they believe wishes become thoughts once passed by the Lobbyist's Legislature.
For my money, I'm going to Cable, Milwaukee and Baraboo for the People's Legislature and Fighting Bob Fest for real debate over real reform with real people.
March 16, 2005
The gold rules
The Lobbyist's Legislature, funded by taxpayers, is a comfortable place. Plenty of staff, beautiful surroundings, nice restaurants nearby, warm in winter, cool in summer, just right in spring and fall. For showing up, if only to meet a lobbyist for 10 minutes, the taxpayers give the legislator $88 for the day if he or she represents an area of the state outside Dane County. Woody Allen said it best, "Showing up is 80 percent of life."
Just in time for the People's Legislature session Saturday in Cable, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday on contract lobbyists and the figures are eye-popping: 150 contract lobbyists were paid $22.2 million during the last session to take public money for private gain. And you wonder why they respond like Pavlov's dogs to the ring of the ethanol bell or the tax loophole bell? Wonder no more.
Cable, Wisconsin, one of the most beautiful areas in the state, is the site for phase three of The People's Legislature (TPL). While farther south we have started looking for robbins, on Saturday we will look for a lobbyist although none is expected. Should be fun.
I will be on "Week in Review" from 8-9 Friday morning with on Wisconsin Public Radio and expect TPL to be a topic. Could it be more obvious that the Lobbyist's Legislature cries out for reform? There are good people fighting the fight on the inside but they need fresh troops. TPL hopes to be those fresh troops.
See you in Cable on Saturday.
March 15, 2005
On occasion I wake up to the news and ask who is in charge of the asylum. Today was one of those days. News from Wisconsin is that the Brookfield police are looking into church sermons to find a motive for Terry Ratzmann's shooting of seven fellow parishoners. Capt. Phil Horton said, "We believe the motive has something to do with the church and the church services more so than any other possible motive. We're looking at the sermons of the church."
One supposes Capt. Horton thinks the killings might have been church-related because Ratzmann killed people at church services. There is some good investigative work. What Capt. Horton is not asking is who sold Ratzmann the gun. And, of course, the community does not want to focus on the impact of unemployment on the unemployed. And no one is interested in asking if a gun that fires 20 times in 21 seconds killing seven people is designed for sportsmen.
On the international scene we learn that we are getting tough with China. Let me see. We want China to disarm North Korea; China owns $600 billion of our debt and is propping up our economy by purchasing our bonds. China has a tremendous impact on our economy and, we remind the president, has millions of soldiers, nuclear weapons and a delivery system. This is not your father's Iraq, my friend.
So, when we "threaten" China should China absorb Taiwan, who is kidding whom? This is more the Mouse that Roared than High Noon. Or it is insanity? War with China?
I hit the snooze button but 10 minutes later someone was talking about Condi Rice running for president! Next? Charlie Sykes will head the Department of Education.
March 14, 2005
Carnage in Brookfield
The comments from fellow and sister parisioners seem typical of neighbors following inexplicable shooting sprees: "Struggling with unemployment; quiet; a loner but nice person...would never have suspected." In other words, a decent church-going guy by all accounts who snapped and killed eight people in less than a minute.
We can almost hear the NRA saying, "Guns don't kill people, people do." Well, guns are quick, deadly and do awful things. Can you imagine someone systematically stabbing eight people without being restrained? But in 30 seconds, people were too stunned to move. So maybe the NRA might change their message to "Guns don't kill people but they sure make it easier and faster."
Those pushing for a concealed weapons bill in the Lobbyists' Legislature might think about viewing the pictures of the crime scene and talking with the survivors before bringing the bill up for a vote. Placing a sign outside of churches or schools "No concealed weapons. Please." won't cut it.
Let's hope we can hit the pause button on the concealed weapons bill and take a hard look at the awful carnage in Brookfield caused, in part, by a 9 mm handgun. Place in our memory bank one survivor's memory: "It was pandemonium. I looked back and saw the gun. The gunshots kept exploding. A minute later, there was silence."
A minute later all the others could have been killed. A minute.
March 13, 2005
Who is writing Bud's material?
We all know that Bud Selig, like all comissioners of sports, is selected, hired, paid and can only be fired by the millionaire and billionare owners of teams. So read Bud's comments about the steroid controversy tearing at the credibility of his office, the baseball record books, and those charged with educating our young.
Selig told the media Saturday he would fight for his players: "I'm very protective of the players. (What, and not the owners?) There's a sense of fairness here. If we (who is we?) hadn't done anyhing, criticism would be fair." I didn't make up that quote. Ah, as Mark Russell often says, "Who needs comedy writers when we have public figures?"
What Selig means is, "I would destroy the players' union and reimpose the old reserve system in a heart-beat, but on this issue, I want the focus on the players not the trainers, team doctors, club owners, managers and sports writers all of whom have known for years that players were using illegal steroids."
So Bud is now the protector of the players? Could you give us a break? Why has the commissioner's office done nothing for 10 years while newly formed muscles rippled through baseball uniforms?
Bud, could you tell us your message to a 10-year-old baseball fan who wants to play in the major leagues? Should he follow Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds?
March 12, 2005
Now and again, one is reminded of the late Chuck Stoddard's wisdom when he announced a scientific finding of his that "there are more horse's rear-ends in America than there are horses." Jose Canseco proves Chuck's point beyond a reasonable doubt.
Not only has he betrayed the fans who paid good money to see real athletes hit the ball not juiced-up aging superstars, he suggests everyone would benefit from steroids and growth hormones. Can you imagine the number of young kids out there looking for a way into wealth from poverty who will be popping illegal steroids--thanks to Canseco?
In "Juice" he writes, as quoted in the New Yorker, "What I've learned is that there is a way to stop the aging process...with the right mix of steroids and growth hormones."
Before rushing out to purchase this book, consider an L.A. Times review: "The worst sports book so far in three centuries." One can only hope that teachers of our young convince their students that "Dr. (sic) Juice" is a fraud and is among the last people in America they should listen to.
March 11, 2005
Cost of invasion
Remember when Rumsfeld quickly dismissed suggestions that the Iraqi invasion could cost between $100 billion and $200 billion? Some even suggested it would be a cost-free-bargain-basement invasion as oil from Iraq would be used by the occupying force to pay the costs.
Check the National Priorities Project link on our Links page. Costs thus far exceed $155 billion and there is no end in site. We will go over $200 billion soon. For $155 billion we could pay for 7.5 million four-year scholarships at public universities or pay the salaries and benefits for 2.7 million teachers for one year. The cost to Wisconsin alone is $3.5 billion.
And how is the democratization of the Middle East coming along? Well, the election in Iraq was a rejection of the U.S. with "our" candidate getting about 14 percent of the vote. In Lebanon? They had a one-day show of strength against Syria and immediately the airwaves were filled with huzzahs for the Bush doctrine. But the next day 500,000 demonstrated in Lebanon for Syria.
The anniversary of the invasion is approaching. More than 1,500 dead soldiers, 15,000 or more injured seriously, thousands of civilians dead, and the unrest continues. Disaster after disaster after disaster. Happy anniversary Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and George Bush. Happy anniversary.
March 10, 2005
The moderate GOP
I'm not making this up. The hard right is having an "anti-Bob Fest" session in West Allis. Such stalwarts as Glenn Grothman and Scott Walker are gathering to offset the speeches and discussions held at Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo.
A Wisconsin Public Radio reporter called me for comment and laughter was the first thing that came out. Not only do they fear "creeping La Folletteism," but they think the Republican Party is too moderate for the likes of J.J. Blonian and Paul Bucher. Now if that doesn't frighten you what would?
What they should be focused on are the disasterous results of TABOR in Colorado. Local schools are in trouble, state government is in turmoil, the university system is, according to the president of the University of Colorado, who just resigned, in "a budget crisis over a shortage of state financing" as reported in the March 8 NY Times. The dream of Bradley Foundation front man Charlie Sykes--TABOR--turns out to be a nightmare, yet he and the hard right in Wisconsin find it to be their magic talisman.
That meeting in West Allis ought to be a beauty. Too bad I wasn't invited. Oh, well, there is always next year.
March 9, 2005
To the victor
Ah, yes, the spoils go to the victor, but who wins and who loses in that simple-minded approach to government? We got the answer from the U.S. Senate, when 14 Democrats (to be named later) joined Republicans to cut off debate on the draconian bankruptcy bill. Travis Plunkett of the Consumer Federation of America said, "This is a triumph of big banks and other lending institutions over the public interest."
If anything, Plunkett understates the problem. People who declare bankruptcy now will never recover. They will still owe the hospital and they will still owe the credit card industry that is charging them 15, 20, or 40 percent interest.
The only thing missing from the bill is the creation of debtor prisons. Seems to me that if you miss a few payments you should sit in prison for a while to map out a strategy. You know, like an indentured servant relationship with the hospital or credit card company.
March 8, 2005
Shame on the Senate!
Our good friend and Fighting Bob Fest III keynote speaker Tom Harkin rose on the Senate floor in support of Ted Kennedy's bill to raise the minimum wage from a paltry $5.15 to $7.25 over 26 months. (Not exactly a king's ransom.) Harkin hit the nail on the head: "We have raised our own wages seven times in eight years but we haven't raised the minimum wage during that time. Shame on the Senate."
Kennedy said, "No one who works 40 hours a day, 52 weeks a year should live in poverty." He suggested the Republicans have a "poverty agenda," and it sure looks like it. Keep minimum wage at $10,700 per year, eliminate overtime for millions of Americans, cut Medicaid, cut taxes for the wealthy, add a national sales tax to be paid by the rest of us, privatize and gut social security. Moyers said it best: "The wealthy have declared class warfare and they have won."
There is a ray of hope. Democrats and a few Republicans in Washington are talking about economics as if they were liberals or progressives. Maybe, just maybe, the American people will begin to see what is happening to them.
Meanwhile, back in our lobbyist's legislature, the minimum wage was buried by John Gard (R-Sun Prairie/Peshtigo) while he gets a minimum of $11 per hour just to drive 2.5 miles to meet the lobbyists in the Capitol. Harkin said "shame." In Wisconsin apparently some legislators no longer know the meaning of the word.
March 7, 2005
What webs we weave
The newspapers are suddenly on top of the Doyle administration's outsourcing. One must ask if Doyle has any rules or any negotiators.
The Accenture contract is featured in today's MJS and it is good reading. Kansas has fired Accenture and Pennsylvania apparently wants to. Kansas won't tell anyone why they changed their mind, but maybe a review of Accenture's work in Florida contributed.
But of equal importance, see MJS for this story, "SBC hired state's contract consultant" who evaluated bids for the state's networking contract. The governor's spokesman immediately said, "It did not pose a conflict," but UW officials were skeptical because the contract "gives too much control to SBC. Instead, they wanted to have state employes manage at least part of the network." (But, hey, if we can't trust SBC, who can we trust?)
Message to world from Doyle: "We don't trust our university to create voter lists or a communications network. Try our stem cells."
Meanwhile, back at the Lobbyist's Legislature, they continue worrying about gay marriage and unanimously passing phony campaign reform legislation. Ever ask why Rome fell?
March 6, 2005
Gas prices up?
Readers of the MJS had a slap in the face yesterday when they read, "Expect to see record prices at the pump." Why would prices go up 24 cents a gallon in one week.
Searching for clues, I quickly read the article. The one excuse that stuck out, and I'm not making this up, was, "Analysts (anonymous ones) blamed the surging crude oil prices on fear that that worlwide oil supply will be strained by the demand to fuel the growing economies of India and China."
Whoa Nelly! These folks are really on top of it. A surge from India and China will come on Tuesday of next week. They are good. The part I liked best was, "Regardless of the reason...".
Might we ask if the Justice Department is out of intellectual gas or is in cahoots with the oil boys? The cost of this incredible increase is $90 million per day. Think of the impact on a worker earning the minimum wage of $5.15 per hour who must drive to work. Think about the impact on small business as $90 million per day is transferred from consumers to wealthy oil companies already drowning in exess profit.
While politicians won't raise taxes, the oil companies don't even blink. Ah, remember when competition would keep prices down? But then we opted for monopoly as our national pastime.
March 5, 2005
Amy Goodman in Madison
The voice rising above all others every morning of the work week is in Madison. Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now!" will speak at the law school, the Barrymore Theater, and will raise money for Free Speech TV at my house. We are delighted to host Amy Goodman who has changed the way we get our news. It is real.
So, go to our Links page and read the "Democracy Now!" Web site (and check out some of the other links while you are there). Welcome to Madison, Amy and staff.
March 3, 2005
Good for Assembly Rep. Mark Pocan. He is a plaintiff in fighting the contract entered into by the staff director of the Wisconsin Elections Board, and Pocan has done some research. Neighbor Minnesota did their own work on voter lists for $5.3 million and guess what? They own the hardware and the software. How did they do it? They used Minnesota brain power--state employees.
Cost of Wisconsin's contract to outsource? A cool $13.9 million for Accenture and $2.7 million to the firm Deloitte Consulting. And when the lists are complete who owns the software and hardware? You guessed it: Accenture.
Well done, Mark.
March 2, 2005
The People's Legislature
With two successful events in Madison and La Crosse, the People's Legislature moves into the land of SOUL. The next session will be in Cable on March 19, where progressive voices will join with the politically homeless to demand a return to democracy in Wisconsin. Just the simple things like fair elections, enforceable rules, close races, and a fair shot for the smaller parties.
Mark your calendar. See you at Telemark.
March 1, 2005
Senate minority leader Judy Robson says what many of us have been thinking in "Legislation by stopwatch," namely that the legislators and lobbyists get to draft bills, review drafts, and have them ready for passage before the public even knows there is an issue. Put another way, the current Lobbyists' Legislature reminds me of the old saying, "A lie gets half-way around the world before truth gets her boots on."
When I returned to Wisconsin to take up the position of deputy attorney general in the early 1980s, legislative hearings were important. Witnesses were treated with respect and their expertise was valued. While a far cry from the original days of the Wisconsin Idea, where UW professors like Frank Remington, Jim McDonald, Arlen Christiansen and others were often invited to study proposals and testify, there was plenty of room for thoughtful citizens at the witness table.
Today testimony from citizens appears to annoy the lobbyists and the legislators. See the article by Sarah Lloyd and GuestBlog by Christa Westerberg on this topic, and then read Senator Robson's superb article again.
"Government should operate in a fish bowl, where all the world can see how we conduct the people's business," Senator Robson writes. My only amendment would be to say that we need this transparency in order to see how the state conducts the lobbyists' business, because the people are told through body language, hostile questions, and indifference that their views are not important. We will ask speaker Gard (R-Sun Prairie/Peshtigo) to respond.
Time for change, folks.