June 30, 2005
Why worry--we are winning
The incredible performance given by our president the other night keeps rolling around in my brain. Almost Alfred E. Newmanesque--the speech, like his foreign policy, seems sadly out of sync with the American people. And then a helicopter is shot down in Afghanistan killing 17 American soldiers and we are sadly reminded that the American effort to tame the Taliban in that country will, like the insurgency in Iraq, take more than a decade, billions of dollars, and thousands of lives.
Perhaps PBS will put all of this in perspective when Ken Tomlinsen's new piece praising Richard Perle is broadcast. (By the way, the NYT reports that Garry Denny, associate director of programming at Wisconsin Public TV, asked "will this be money well spent?" Hooray for Denny.)
What will Bush/Cheney/Perle/Rumsfeld do when they run out of National Guard troops. Anyone feel a draft?
June 29, 2005
Was that LBJ?
In listening to President Bush, my mind floated back in time to LBJ's many apologies for Vietnam. Always a call to patriotism. Always a "support the troops" and "we are winning" message. In LBJ's case the body count was on our side and he assured us that "We shall prevail."
Last night Bush gave us no strategy to be supported or justification for the death and destruction other than his usual bromides. He needs a strategy and a new speech writer.
Meanwhile, Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson has wasted no time in Foxing PBS. Yes, Public Television will do a positive feature on neocon Richard Perle. (The guy who called Seymour Hersh a terrorist.) I'm not making this up. Why? Well, "fair and balanced" dontcha know.
On a bright and optimistic note, the Capital Times carried the announcement of Fighting Bob Fest, featuring John Conyers, Amy Goodman, Gwen Moore, Jim Hightower, Mike McCabe and many more. Mark your calendar--September 10--and sign up now by clicking on Fighting Bob Fest. See you there.
June 28, 2005
I can hardly wait
President Bush faces the nation tonight in a major address on Iraq. How would you like to write that speech?
"My fellow Americans, I am reporting to you on our victory in Iraq and throughout the Middle-East. The elections in Iraq where our guy got about 18% proves that the government is not our puppet. And the promising electoral results in Iran and Indonesia demonstrate that our invasion of Iraq has accomplished the goal of unifying Muslims throughout the world. While it is unfortunate they are unififed against us, they now have tasted freedom. And, with some claming the elections were rigged certainly takes the heat off my own two victories.
I also want to inform you that the secret memos leaked by our fair-weather friends in Britain, may have been part of a Democratic Party effort to discredit my administration. Are those documents false? Only Robert Novak and Fox news know for certain but if we find they were falsified, we will prosecute those Democrats in secret trials. They won't get away with this treason.
As for a timetable--forget it. I'll tell you when we are ready to pull out. It may be 12 years from now but it could be only a year. It may cost a trillion dollars but that was always part of our plan to cripple the government so we could elminate Medicaid and Social Security.
My fellow freedom loving and Christian friends, the Rapture will soon occur and so you should relax and trust us. Good night." I can't wait.
June 27, 2005
Rummy is on his game
Remember the Rumsfeld promises as our troops invaded Iraq? It would be Paris on VE day; flowers in the street, and a grand welcome to the liberators. Yes, and our military was planning to leave within a few months.
Now Rumsfeld, faced with an expanding disaster, says it could take 12 years to defeat the insurgents. Twelve years? Don't count on it. Today 38 more deaths, yesterday 18, and fellow optimist Dick Cheney notwithstanding, the insurgents do not seem to be in the final throes.
Back in Wisconsin, Assembly Rep. Spencer Black caused a stir by announcing that he is considering a run for governor. Immediately the governor's flacks accused us of fomenting this effort. Could it be lousy environmental, tax, and tuition policies that bother Spencer? Should be interesting. Black is scheduled to speak at Fighting Bob Fest on September 10.
June 26, 2005
Last week we cheered as the $100 million cut in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting budget was restored. Was it the million or more e-mails and calls to Congress that did it? Or was it a cynical sleight of hand trick? Frank Rich in Sunday's NYT says the latter and so do I.
Rich bluntly sums up the plot: "The intent is not to kill off PBS and NPR but to castrate them by quietly annexing their news and public affairs operations to the larger state propaganda machine that the Bush White House has been steadily constructing at taxpayer's expense."
Think of Armstrong Williams, Jeff Gannon, Paul Gigot, the faux news clips. Add to those scary people Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of CPB, who just appointed former Republican National Committee co-chair Patricia Harrison president and CEO of what was "public" broadcasting and will now become "All Rove's Thoughts Considered."
Rich concludes that about the only way to keep public broadcasting "independent from these thugs is a rising chorus of Deep Throats."
I would add to the chorus and ask those in charge of Wisconsin's public broadcasting to get with it. This is no time for silence or caution. This is a hostile takeover. Make no mistake about it. Join the battle, folks.
June 25, 2005
Don't you wonder?
Yesterday four women Marines died in Iraq and that brought the total service deaths to 1,728.
A New York Times editorial suggests three things we must accept about Iraq. First, "the war had nothing to do with September 11; second, the war has not made the world or this nation safer from terrorism; and if the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan." All true, all understated.
While the nation sours on this unjustified invasion, Secretary Rumsfeld continues to base policy on a wish rather than a thought. He actually told the Senate that everything is on track. Ted Kennedy spoke for us when he suggested Rumsfeld resign.
Just as one thought that the Democrats were getting their act together by electing Howard Dean to head the party, the news is that 36 Democrats will announce support for CAFTA in a full-page ad in the Washington Post! Whoa Nelly! How many more jobs must disappear before the Democrats get their act together by demanding FAIR trade not FREE trade?
June 24, 2005
The U.S. Supreme Court answered a tough question yesterday: What is "public use" needed to justify the exercise of eminent domain? The majority concluded it is "public purpose" and thus government can, through the enormous power of eminent domain, seize private property for private economic development.
Are there any limits? Tough to see what they would be given the use of language these days. (Jim Doyle calls air quality deregulation "Job Creation," so it is not hard to imagine "public use" for almost any project.)
But not even the most ardent advocates of the right of government to seize property would go as far as the Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, who want to give private utilities the right to seize public property. Think about that.
PBS: The House listened to millions of calls and letters and restored the 25 percent cut in the PBS budget. Good work folks! But, before breaking out the bubbly stuff, Ken Tomlinson, the rightwing chair of CPB, appointed extreme partisan Patricia Harrison as president and CEO of PBS. The Rove boys will destroy PBS unless we demand reform.
June 23, 2005
Some of us remember the effort by Richard Nixon and his Tonto, Pat Buchannen, to scale back public radio and TV in the 1970s. They failed because responsible people of all parties spoke up in defense of public broadcasting. Then Newt Gingrich tried to decapitate Big Bird, but with Clinton in the White House and an aroused electorate, Gingrich failed. This time, folks, the big boys are weighing in while the defenders of public broadcasting seem downright quiet.
Three major exceptions. Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now" has given lots of air time to the effort to eliminate all funding over the next two years starting with a 25 percent cut in the next fiscal year. Bill Moyers has been a one-man band writing articles, giving speeches, taking out full page ads in the Washingon Post, and appearing on Amy's program and Jon Stewart's as well. Why? He believes the right wing is serious about killing PBS--and so do I.
The third force is, once again, MoveOn.org. MoveOn has a petition drive and as I write this more than 1.2 million have signed the petition to Congress to save NPR, PBS and our local stations.
This is scary stuff. The right already controls nearly all televivsion outlets and 90 percent of talk radio. (Read Tim Schilke's FightingBob.com article and imagine having only Sykes or Belling on radio. Egad!)
We need NPR and PBS. Yes, both have been tame and it appears intimidated by the right wing, but imagine life without Joy Cardin, Kathleen Dunn, "In Wisconsin," "Here and Now," "All Things Considered," "NOW," and "Frontline." Get moving folks. Check in with MoveOn.org, call your congressperson and our senators. Do not let them silence the independent voices on PBS and NPR. Action is a must.
June 22, 2005
Reading about the budget deliberations leads me to the inevitable conclusion that we would be much better off with a part-time Legislature. The old saying that "an idle mind is the devil's workshop" comes to mind when reports filter out of the Capitol. These legislators have too much time to think about looney ideas.
Cloning to find cures for some of our worst diseases will become a crime says a guy from Elkhart Lake named Kestell who somehow got elected to the Legislature: "Human cloning is human cloning and that is what we are dealing with in this bill."
John Wiley, chancellor of the UW-Madison, said this is "a back door attempt to criminalize embryonic stem cell research" while arguing that therapeutic cloning should go forward and may hold the key to cures for disease. But What does Wiley know? "Cloning perverts God's design for creating new life," said a spokesperson for Wisconsin Right to Life. I am not making this up.
How do you argue with people who have closed minds? The old saying that you should never argue with crazy people should be applied to the Republican majority. Wisconsin is rapidly returning to the 1940s. The governor should veto the entire budget and force these folks to start fresh. Give them a mulligan.
Some good news. We wrote about the plight of Racine schools when the referendum lost. Students, teachers and parents hit the streets. Yesterday the voters passed a $6.45 million dollar referenum proposal. And it was 56 percent to 43 percent. Good for Racine.
June 21, 2005
The Bolton nomination
The stubbornness of W. comes through with his response to the defeat of the bully Bolton. Bush claims the American people know "I nominated Bolton because the U.N. needs reform." Yah, sure Ole.
I hear people on the street demanding reform at the U.N. and they know instinctively we need a guy who Collin Powell opposes and Republican George Voinovich says is "the poster child of what a diplomat should not be."
But Bush will probably appoint him to the U.N. when Congress is in recess. Like the judicial appointments he brought back to the Senate, Bush, Cheney and Rove do not think Congress has the right to say no to the imperial president. Scary.
Iraq--the disaster continues as we have now spent more than $178 billion on the invasion. That is the equivalent of 8.6 million four-year scholarships at UW, Minnesota or Illinois. And the carnage continues.
June 20, 2005
The battle for PBS
The right wing has targeted public radio and public TV for years. They have near-complete control over corporate media and they want to privatize PBS or eliminate it to complete the circle.
Remember when Robert Dole said that public television leaned so far left it was in danger of tipping over? Any serious analysis of PBS adult programming would conclude that Dole was full of bullfeathers as conservative and mainstream programming is normal. Rarely does PBS air a program from the left of center. When they do it is on "Frontline" or on "NOW." The middle holds sway every day on Jim Lehrer's news hour.
Now, with control of our courts moving on schedule, control of Congress and the White House, Karl Rove has his eye firmly fixed on PBS. His surrogate is Ken Tomlinson, who is pushing hard to elevate Patricia Harrison to the presidency of PBS. Who is she? A former co-chair of the Republican National Committee who helped with fundraising for W.
We should not be surprised that the right wants to eliminate or intimidate PBS. But we must ask, who is leading the fight to protect the integrity of PBS?
Will the University of Wisconsin step up to the plate to fight for the independence of PBS? Will the Wisconsin public radio and television people take on this fight or will they go quietly into the night?
Time to raise hell about the Rove/Tomlinson effort to turn PBS into a "fair and balanced" Fox wannabe.
June 18, 2005
When it begins falling apart
The talk of impeachment a month ago was dismissed by most people, including me, in part because the Congress appears incapable of doing anything about anything. But something is happening and the hearing chaired by Congressman John Conyers (keynote speaker at Fighting Bob Fest) took on an air of reality. Was a felony commited by the president in deliberately misleading the Congress? Reading the Downing Street memo would lead to that conclusion. So, when 100 members of Congress signed the Conyers memo to the White House demanding an explanation, impeachment sounds plausible if still unlikely.
The background music is partially responsible. In the past month 83 U.S. soldiers and more than 750 Iraqis have died. And even an apologist like Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said, "We always accentuated the positive and never prepared the public for the worst." (Wasn't that Graham sitting next to a smiling Hillary Clinton a month ago with both saying things are getting better?)
Add to the Iraqi quagmire news of crude oil at a record high of $58.47 per barrel with predictions of $70 per barrel, and the administration is having a crisis of confidence. When Bush dismisses Conyers his brush-off is not credible. People want some answers.
The quarterly trade gap reached $195 billion on the way to almost $800 billion for the year. Yikes! Members of Congress are quick to jump off a sinking ship.
Are we seeing the unravelling of the Rove garment? Perhaps.
June 17, 2005
Let's enjoy some good things
Popular support for the war has plummeted. Today about 33-34 percent of the people support the way Bush is handling the war. In my experience 33 percent of the people always support the president no matter what, so Bush is by my calculation at rock bottom. Russ Feingold has taken a bold step by introducing a resolution to set the date for withdrawal of our troops and even Republicans in the House are calling for an exit plan. That is good news and we should enjoy it.
The president's loopy privatization of Social Security has been a fiasco. The designer of the Edsel has a better track record. So, let's enjoy--Social Security is safe for years to come.
Only one-third of Americans think the country is on the right track according to the New York Times/CBS poll. Perhaps people have awakened to jobs flowing from our country to China, the inequitable tax plan that intensifies class distinction, the enormous national debt that will, according to James Fallows in the most recent Atlantic Monthly, lead us to economic disaster. While it is tough to "enjoy" the mess, we can smile as not even Karl Rove can spin his way out of it.
Finally, a state Senate committee voted 3-2 to follow the call of the People's Legislature to replace the Elections and Ethics boards with a real enforcement agency. Hooray for Mike Ellis, Fred Risser and Mark Miller--the happy gang of three who passed the bill out of committee.
Think they aren't listening in the Lobbyist's Legislature? We have a bill to make districts competitive; there is a clamor for publicly financed elections; and now the bill to give teeth to enforcers. Hey! Smile, loosen up, enjoy the moment! (Don't get too excited--we are a long way from home. But enjoy the good stuff along the way. Summer is here!)
June 16, 2005
Quo Vadis UW?
My article on the UW crisis raises questions that were addressed at Fighting Bob's birthday symposium and will be discussed throughout the almost comical budget process going on in the Lobbyist's Legislature.
One good bit of news: Jim Doyle appointed former Assembly speaker Tom Loftus to the Board of Regents. Whether you agree with Tom or not, he is bright, thoughtful and articulate. The media will pay attention to him. If he steps up to fight for the UW, he could have an important impact. Congratulations to Governor Doyle. (Now, how about Mike McCabe to head Elections Board, Nino Amato as chair of the PSC, and John Nichols to head Wisconsin Public Television? Hey, this could be fun!)
June 15, 2005
Quite a celebration
The incomparable John Nichols was the master of ceremonies and 200 or more in the audience loved every minute of the Fighting Bob birthday celebration. Our Chief Justice read excerpts from the 1873 speech delivered by Edward Ryan. A speech that inspired young Bob for his entire career.
Justice Abrahamson pointed out that we have been in error for years. We said Justice Ryan but at the time of the speech he was only attorney Ryan. Oh well, another myth punctured. (The following year he was appointed to the court, so it is harmless error.)
Former Attorney General Bronson La Follette spoke about his grandfather's legacy as did Barbara Lawton, historian Nancy Unger, and Gail Lamberty. It was a moving celebration. The challenge to the crowd was to recapture our democracy today as the Progressives did more than a century ago.
While we celebrated Fighting Bob, the lobbyists in the building were having a field day. The willing legislators were granting the right to seize publicly owned land to, you guessed it, the utilities La Follette reigned in when he suggested the creation of a PSC.
Congratulations to Gail Lamberty for organizing an inspiring event. Was there a young Bob La Follette in the crowd? Who knows.
June 14, 2005
Fighting Bob's birthday
It is 150 years later and he remains a towering figure in Wisconsin. Yes, our Web site is named for him and, of course, Fighting Bob Fest is as well. But his great contribution was to help clean up politics in our state. He took back our democracy from the wealthy interests who nominated candidates in the back room, funded their campaigns, and wrote the legislation they would dutifully pass.
He chased them out of the people's temple but now they are back with a vengeance. The utilities, banks and paper companies run the show. Today, in fact, the Assembly will try to hand the utilities a two-fer. Give them the right to condemn public lands and circumvent the Supreme Court on the Oak Creek coal-fired plant.
So, on his birthday, we will meet in the Capitol and call for a renewal of his spirit. Once again, we must take back our democracy from the privileged few.
June 13, 2005
Vouchers under study
The MJS has started a must-read seven-part series on the Milwaukee school voucher program. (I must point out that I have opposed the use of vouchers from day one.) Fifteen years have gone by since the start of this experiment. The cost is staggering: 83 million tax dollars for just this year.
The initial article suggests the jury is still out on the success or failure of the program. A Stanford professor, Martin Carnoy, said, "I don't see what the big impact of all this was." He pointed out that other states have not joined the bandwagon, "Basically, they can live without it."
Former Mayor John Norquist and Howard Fuller were the salesmen in chief for the Bradley Foundation scheme to use vouchers as the first step toward privatization of public education. (Two bits it would be about as successful as privatization of the Milwaukee Public Museum.)
The Norquist argument was that voucher schools would force MPS to "compete" for students and the competition would make MPS better. There is scant evidence that the voucher program has had any impact on MPS except to take lots of money from MPS to support vouchers.
I recommend you read all seven parts of this series. Good for MJS for taking on this task.
And, this grim stat in from Iraq: More than 1,700 Americacn service men and women have been killed in Iraq with the announcement of four more Marines killed yesterday.
I suspect Fighting Bob Fest will be fertile ground for those who want an end to the occupation.
June 12, 2005
Forget the progressives--who needs them?
The Wisconsin Democrats met this weekend and made it clear that control of the party is firmly in the hands of the centrists. The Doyle Party seems convinced that the path to victory in 2006 and beyond is to assume the progressives will get in line and vote Democrat. They will be lectured ad nauseum: "Would you rather have Mark Green or Scott Walker as governor?"
So, the Christofferson/Susan Goodwin reasoning goes, move right, work with the utilities on siting, follow the WMC agenda on deregulation, and raise lots of money. You win!
As if he had his own re-election in the pocket, Doyle continues to push Kathleen Falk to challenge Peg Lautenschlager, thus dividing his base even more and placing Falk in the embarassing position of denying she is Doyle's candidate. Despite the firm control of Doyle, in a poll, Falk got eight more votes than Peg. Not exactly a mandate.
Some people remember a similar, albeit more restrained, policy of Tony Earl in 1986. He lost to a legislator considered a bumbler by Democrats--Tommy Thompson. The problem with the Christofferson theory is that the very people he takes for granted are the door-knockers and enthusiasm-builders. For a Democrat to win, he or she must have the enthusiasm of the progressives. Tell them they are irrelevant and they will sit on their hands. We barely made it into the blue state category in 2004 and that was an all-out effort of left and center.
The Legislature is almost veto-proof and some would argue Jim Doyle was elected because Ed Thompson got in the race. Seems odd to deliberately cut off contact with the progressives when everyone thinks he has an uphill battle in 2006.
Joe Wineke won the race for Party Chair. He was the Doyle candidate and easily defeated Jeff Rammelt. (One oddity: 790 delegates were registered but reportedly 890 voted in the chair's race.)
If you tried to find coverage of the convention in the corporate media, good luck. How are people interested in politics supposed to follow politics?
June 11, 2005
Speakers tell us much
The fact that DLC favorite Evan Bayh was invited to address the Wisconsin Democratic Convention says more about the Doyle directed party than you will learn from presidential candidate Bayh. Doyle and his closest advisors are DLC to the core. I always refer to DLC as "Democrats for the Leisure Class" but Al From, Bayh and Doyle prefer to call themselves the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.
Bayh is a free trade advocate and has not yet declared if he will oppose or support CAFTA. With manufacturing jobs disappearing, wouldn't it seem obvious that so-called "Free Trade" helps the multinational corporations while snatching food from worker's tables?
With the disastrous Iraq war taking an unacceptable toll, one would think a speaker would be invited to lay out a plan to bring our troops home. Bayh told repporters he would talk about "fiscal stability, intergenerational reponsibility and the sharp divides splintering America." Wow! Can't wait to read the text.
In the meantime, get ready to celebrate Fighting Bob's 150th birthday. He would not have hesitated to condemn the war in Iraq and the irresponsible profiteering that is going on. Read Dave Zweifel's article and join us at the Capitol on Tuesday.
June 10, 2005
Public weighs in
The Associated Press has reported on their most recent poll and the president won't like it. Only 35 percent of our fellow citizens think the nation is going in the right direction and only 41 percent approve of his handling of the Iraq invasion/insurgency/war/you name it. Fifty-nine percent oppose his loopy Social Security plan.
Imagine how people would respond if we had a strong Democratic Party laying out plans to bring our troops home and a progressive income tax alternative to the Bush give-away to the super rich. The people are once again leading the way; time for the politicians to catch up.
Wisconsin Democrats are meeting tonight and tomorrow. As one reporter suggested, the greatest fear of the party leadership is that "a debate could break out." One hopes they will take on the wars--the class war waged by the Bush administration, and the Iraq war that has cost hundreds of billions and nearly 1,700 soldiers killed.
June 9, 2005
You thought I was kidding yesterday about the Dems demanding to approve signs and literature at their convention this weekend. Here is the policy:
"All flyers must be approved by (unnamed) DPW staff...before being distributed on convention hall chairs. All flyers that are distributed without approval (from unnamed and unelected staff) will be subject to a fine. The DPW reserves the right to make final decisions regarding flyer approval."
Same policy for signs. Now, when the unnamed staff "reserves the right", may I ask who gave them the right to reserve? Have they lost their minds? Frankly, I'll bet fewer than 5 percent of you know who the chair of the party is and none of you know who the staff director, who will act as censor-in-chief, is or how she was selected.
Fighting Bob Fest, by contrast, welcomes all comers and all signs, literature, video tape and banners.
The DPW is not all about censorhsip. Read this: "This convention is going to be incredibly fun-filled and energetic." They might have added, "DPW will tell you when to express enthusiam and energy. Those who do not follow orders are suspected of Green leanings and will be removed from the hall."
Where is my old party?
June 8, 2005
Whatever happened to free speech?
You must read Josh Healey's account of the student "invasion" of the Lobbyist's Legislature. Some students had the courage to confront the Joint Finance Committee. (A committee sponsored by Wisconsin Bankers, Realtors and Commerce.) These outrageous students were trying to save the great state university of Wisconsin. "Cut tuition not our Budget" was a sign they urolled to the shock and horror of JFC members who are normally entertained by lobbyists in expensive Italian suits.
The response here in the land of "sifting and winnowing" was swift. Capitol police tore down the banner and hauled the students down to an underground police station for questioning. Not charged but detained until they promised not to return to the Capitol that day.
What nonsense. But if that doesn't get you moving, the Democrats are meeting this week in Oshkosh. (See our GuestBlog.) Fearful of printed material that might call into question the policies of Jim Doyle, the Party has issued a ukase: All printed material to be placed on the chairs of the convention goers must be approved by the Party in advance. I'm not making this up. Linda Honold will now play censor. Indeed the Party said it will destroy material not approved in advance and, get this, "fine" those who disobey the Party.
Whoa Nelly! First Joint Finance throws students into an underground police facility for speaking out, and now the Party of FDR, HST, JFK and RFK demands censorship of material? I must be dreaming.
June 7, 2005
Downing Street Memo
John Conyers will be a featured speaker at Fighting Bob Fest Number 4 and he is leading the Congressional effort to force the president to explain the infamous Downing Street Memo. That memo makes it clear that Bush and Blair decided in the summer of 2002 to invade Iraq while publicly denying that a decision had been made. Go to www.JohnConyers.com for the full story.
With 1,671 dead soldiers, more than 20,000 seriously injured, and 20,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, it is time for Congress to find the truth about this awful invasion.
Yesterday 1,000 more Wisconsin National Guardsmen were activated. Are we running low on troops? You bet. Is a draft around the corner?
As our schools cut drama, art, debate, sports, and more help for special needs, we have already spent $175 billion on Iraq. Why? Where are those Democratic voices in the Senate?
June 5, 2005
All's well in Iraq
Congressman Mark Green of Green Bay is running for governor of Wisconsin. He has returned from a two-day trip to Iraq and he is pleased as punch. Assuming eight hours of sleep, four hours of VIP briefings, and some down time during the two days, he might have spent a few hours investigating the situation and, unlike just about every other observer, he thinks all is well.
I'm not making up his quotes: "From Baghdad to Fallujah, from our troops to Iraq's new security forces, signs of progress abound." He said he was honored to have visited Iraq soon after "its liberation" and said, "It was clear the rebuilding task would be monumental but to have accomplished so much so quickly is truly remarkable."
Again, I'm not putting words in his mouth: "I've been to a number of military funerals. They believe in their mission and they believe it is worth what they're doing and I'm just humbled by that."
Wow! Deep thoughts from our roving Congressman.
Meanwhile, back at home, check out Katie Nekola's "Power politics" article and our regular guestblogger Bill Kraus on why the UW is this year's punching bag.
June 3, 2005
Dane County Circuit Court Judge William Foust ruled that Elections Board executive director Kevin Kennedy did not have the authority to sign a "ten plus million dollar contract" with Accenture to compile our voting list, but he found that the Elections Board did and the board ratified the contract after the fact. Thus the contract was held to be valid.
The focus now shifts to the attorney general and the governor. Who will own the source code? Will Accenture get even more money to compile our voting list? Who owns the information?
This contract is a classic example of government acting outside the view of the public.
Hats off to John Matthews, Mike McCabe and the other plaintiffs for challenging this awful contract. Stay tuned for the next move.
June 2, 2005
Train wreck coming
The anti-intellecutals are in charge. Look out! Our great state university is in more trouble than at any time since Abe Lincoln signed the Land-Grant Act in the midst of the Civil War. Lincoln would not be pleased with the Scott Fitzgeralds of today.
The UW has been cut by over $300 million under Governor Doyle's budgets, but that isn't enough for the Lobbyist's Legislature. Now they want $25 million more in cuts. Read Sen. Scott Fitzgerald's comments and weep: "I hope it allows the state to move forward and preserve a lot of the things we've grown to expect from the UW."
Whoa Nelly! Think about it. He "hopes" that "a lot of" the good stuff remains in place as we "move forward." (Is he mad at some professor who gave him a bad grade?)
My conclusion? Time for a part-time Legislature before we change our state motto to "Backward." Time for publicly financed campaigns. Time to reduce the size of the Legislature not to mention the per diem for showing up to work. Time for the UW at all levels to raise hell. See you at Fighting Bob Fest on September 10.
June 1, 2005
Belly up to the bar, boys
Leave it to our Lobbyist's Legislature to top the "Deep Throat" revelation. State Senator Alan Lasee shall henceforth be known as "Dry Throat": He feels put upon for having to pay for food and drink at legislative receptions.
And he has a point. Legislating is hard work. People get thirsty.
Lasee will introduce legislation to permit civic groups and others to provide food and drink for below market prices. I guess the $88 per day given Lasee for food and room isn't enough. Perhaps we could increase the per diem to cover these events. Yikes!
I remember when a crusty editor of a Madison paper, Miles McMillan, banned league-sponsored freebies for sports writers. One of his reporters approached him after hearing of the ban and said, "I can't be bought for a bottle of whisky." McMillan responded, "That may be true, but they don't give it to you because you are thirsty."