August 31, 2005
I must admit to a feeling of peace having spent two weeks in the land of Van Gogh and Cezanne without news or e-mail. Hard to beat it, although the news upon returning that the Washington Post-ABC poll finding 57 percent disapproving President Bush made me smile. And, importantly, 77 percent of Democrats are upset that congressional "leadership" is too tepid in opposing the president. They have caught up with Fighting Bob.
Good news. The congressional delegation speaking at Bob Fest--Conyers, Obey, Moore, Baldwin and Sanders--will not be accused of being too tepid. And, frankly, I can't wait to hear Hightower again along with Amy Goodman. Nice to have people we can count on.
In the meantime, Wisconsin's poverty rate increase was number one in the nation. How do we cope? How about antother tax break, power line, or voter ID bill? Whoa Nelly. Cezanne knew something.
August 16, 2005
GarveyBlog will return August 31. In the meantime, visit our GuestBlog section.
August 14, 2005
The war is over
Don't wake the president! Frank Rich makes a compelling case that someone ought to tell the president the war in Iraq is over. A must read.
Yes it is happening. I'll be off for two weeks but look for the GuestBloggers to take up the slack. Talk with you in two weeks. Keep writing and don't forget to register early for Fighting Bob Fest.
August 13, 2005
Yes, Bill O'Reilly of Fox infamy said that Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, was "treasonous." He said that and more. Her treasonous conduct? Camping outside the vacation spot of President Bush in Crawford, Texas. O'Reilly has no problem with those who outed Ambassador Wilson's wife, but a grieving mother who wants 10 minutes of the president's time should be tried for treason?
Now and then we forget how mean-spirited O'Reilly and his type really are. But O'Reilly has gone over the top this time. The president, who only talks with people who agree with him, sped past Camp Casey on his way to a fundraiser. You can bet that no one at the president's fundraiser is a grieving mother, father, or spouse.
Can't you imagine the Swiftboat type attack ad against Cindy Sheehan? Since when are parents allowed to protest?
The president has a problem.
August 12, 2005
So serious you must laugh
Read the paper this morning, listen to WPR and watch Amy Goodman's TV show and you will recall the Lincoln quote, "I'm too old to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh."
In my view, the greater the hurt the more laughter is required. Read Peter Anderson's "Don't ask" article this morning and you will see what I mean.
And, while you are at it, our friend Peter Leidy , who will perform at Fighting Bob Fest on Saturday September 10, gives us plenty of smiles with his singing despite his serious subject--corruption in the Lobbyist's Legislature. With permission, we print his new lyrics entitled "Love Song for the Wisconsin Legislature." (Read to the tune of "Danny's Song" by Loggins and Messina.) Peter performed on "Here and Now," Wisconsin Public Television's excellent Friday program.
People smile and tell me I'm a silly guy
But I just can't hide all my feelings deep inside
You're my sweet lawmakers under the Dome
And my love has grown, like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
And even though you take my money
Turn around and pull somethin'funny
Every day I count the ways I love you
And in the mornin' when I rise
Jump up and down with delight
'cause I know you've been working hard all night
I love the way you sneak those budget amendments in
at 3 a.m., when nobody is listenin'
I admire how you do the people's will
Propose a bill, to ban the morning after pill
And even though you take my money
Turn around and do somethin' funny
Oh Legislature, I'm head over heels about you
The way you thank your special interest friends
For the checks they send
By doing what they expect from you
Oh my darling Senate and Assembly
Led fearlessly by the far right GOP
The way you make priorities,I am amazed
God, guns, and gays, I'm glad you gave yourselves a raise
And every time you spend our money
I'm more in love with you honey
Makin' laws that serve the cause of donors who did you right
And any time you're in a scandal
I'll stand outside with a candle
And tell you everything's gonna be all right
Thank you Peter Leidy. See you in Baraboo.
August 11, 2005
Now I'm convinced
Yesterday I wrote about Dan Finley rescuing himself by taking on the Milwaukee Museum for a mere $185,000 per year while the employees, all of whom know more about the museum than Finley, have had salaries slashed and jobs eliminated. But now I'm convinced this is in the public interest. How do I reach that conclusion?
Michael Grebe, former head of Foley&Lardner, former campaign manager for Bob Kasten and now president and CEO of the ultra-right Bradley Foundation, thinks Finley's appointment could mean that the problems created by privatization "could turn out to be a real positive." (Foley represented the Friends of the Museum who fought to privatize the museum.)
I'm not making this up. Grebe, according to MJS, said "the museum's problems have more people thinking about economic development and cultural matters in a regional perspective."
I suppose the Enron scandal was also positive. After all, we now think about energy in the context of manipulation. Whoa Nelly!
August 10, 2005
Finley to his rescue
Talk about sacrifice! Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley often toyed with statewide office but never quite decided to take on a challenge outside the friendly conservative confines of Waukesha County. But, alas, he has now ventured forth into the lion's den of Milwaukee. Finley agreed to rescue himself from a $90,000 per year salary with a $185,000 per year package to run the Milwaukee "Public" Museum.
You might recall our comments on the fiasco called privatization of this treasure. The private board permitted the director of this great institution to come close to bankruptcy. One-third of the employees were fired and the rest took major cutbacks in wages and benefits to save the museum. But not Dan Finley, who will take in all $185,000.
You have to admire the conservatives who took over the museum, ran it into the ground, and now turn to one of their own to rescue the place. His experience in the museum world? None. Was there a search for talent? Sure doesn't look like it got beyond former Lieutenant Governor Maragret Farrow's rolodex. Farrow defended the appointment and the salary, saying, "Any other candidate probably would have come...only if the salary would have been quite a bit higher." (I am not making this up.) We will never know, however, because no other candidates were called.
Ah, the wonders of privatization.
August 8, 2005
Mercury is with us
A must read is an article by Anthony DePalma in the New York Times on the testing of New York song birds to determine if mercury levels are high enough to jeopardize the Catskill watershed. Nine million people depend on the watershed for drinking water.
"It's far more extensive than was ever put forth to the public," said David Evers, who is heading the mercury study.
Who is to blame? Get in line, but it begins with emissions from power plants in the Midwest that drift toward New York. We have discussed this before and RFK, Jr. highlighted the issue at last year's Fighting Bob Fest. Pregnant women and children are warned to limit consumption of fish from lakes and streams contaminated by mercury.
So how about the utility executives planning to build more coal burning plants? Where are they on the "guilt-index"? And how about EPA and DNR on the index? Are the judges who permit this pollution guilt-free? Is anybody responsible for our neighbors, not to mention the next couple of generations?
Where is the outrage? I think you will find some of it at Bob Fest on September 10.
August 7, 2005
The Roberts nomination
Remember the "smell test?" Well, this nomination hasn't passed it. Let's start with what we know. Roberts is a true rightwinger who has the blessings of Kenneth Starr, Ted Olsen and virtually every neocon group in America. Why? They know him very well. They clerked with him, worked in the Reagan and Bush I administrations with him; practiced law with him at Hogan & Hartson; read memos he wrote wehen he was the top political apppointee in the solicitor general's office during papa Bush's administration.
The neocons know everything about him and we know very little. They don't want another Souter who will vote independently or another O'Connor. Nope. They want Scalia with a smile. And they all agree he is the man.
What should we do? Demand that the public be given his memoranda written at taxpayer expense for public officials. Why not? Were Kerry president, what would the Republicans demand of his nominee? You got it. Everything.
The New York Times Sunday editorial sums up the argument on the so-called attorney-client privilege the administration has trotted out to keep the memoranda from us. It is, for lack of a better term, nonsense.
The "client" is the American people. Turn over the memos. Ask your senators to pledge a fight to stop the nomination process unless they do. This one is for all the marbles. Affirmative action, choice, Americans with Disabilities Act, voting rights, privacy, civil liberties, detention, environmental regulation and more. We deserve to know what we are getting. We will never know what Ken Starr and Ted Olsen know, but at least give us a chance to predict where the court will go if Roberts takes the oath. We have a right to know everything about his public record.
August 6, 2005
60 years ago
The first book I recall given to me by my parents was Hiroshima by John Hersey. I read it and could not stiffle my horror. We did not know then how many would ultimately die of cancer, but more than 100,000 died from the blast. Then, as if the Japanese did not get the message, we dropped another one on Nagasaki.
We must all pause and remember this dark period. Imagine the notion of World War. Millions of people dying because leaders could not communicate. Imagine one bomb causing hundreds of thousands of deaths because leaders could not find a method of solving disputes.
We then took the lead in forming the United Nations. And 60 years later our president appoints an ambassador to the UN who does not believe in the concept. Are we doomed to repeat Hirohima and Nagasaki?
August 4, 2005
Am I missing something?
The government of Iraq, such as it is, announced this week that Kuwait has been stealing oil and land from Iraq. I am not making this up. An Iraqi delegation will visit Kuwait to make this point. Ironically, the visit is precisely 15 years after George The First bombed hell out of Iraq because Saddam Hussein, making the very same arguments, sent his troops into Kuwait. Talk about deja vu. Next thing you know Bush The Second will put Saddam back in power.
In the meantime, how are things going in "Operation Iraqi Freedom"? We might start by asking the women of Iraq who will soon lose rights they had under bad guy Saddam. Oh well. Can't have everything. At least there are no weapons of mass distruction.
With the news of 21 Marines killed in two days taking the total service deaths to more than 1,800, you have to wonder, Where is the outrage? Why did these young people die?
But we must give our president some credit. He refused an order from Rumsfeld. Rummy wanted all his troops to call it the "global struggle against violent extremism." I'm not kidding. But the steady-as-you-go president said no to Rummy. He maintains it is a "War on Terror."
O.K., how's it going Mr. President? How's it going? Your daughters thinking of signing up?
Bernie Our pal John Nichols has captured the magic of Bernie Sanders in The Nation. "Being Like Bernie" is a superb piece of journalism from our contributing editor. You will hear Bernie and John at Fighting Bob Fest on September 10.
Bush in decline: The Associated Press reports 50 percent of the American people think Bush is not honest; only 38 percent approve of his handling of the Iraqi invasion and occupation; 60 percent think the country is moving in the wrong direction; his overall approval is at 42 percent. (My guess: That is about the population of the Old Confederacy.)
August 3, 2005
Is there any good news?
I received an e-mail admonishing me to tell the "good news" from Iraq. I thought about it, and then the Washington Post reported on "Brutal Improvisation" by soldiers interrogating Major General Mowhoush, an Iraqi POW. After beating him senseless they stuffed him in a sleeping bag and beat him until he died.
As John McCain put it, this is about who we are not who they are. Where is the outrage? What must the rest of the world think of us when they read about Gitmo, dogs, and now this?
Good news? Send me some.
August 2, 2005
Everywhere you go there are traffic jams. Millions of cars, tens of millions of gallons of gasoline burning every day. The price goes up but traffic does not go down. Can there be any doubt we are completely addicted to gasoline? Is there any doubt the world will run out of oil?
So who cares? Well, Chevron cares. They took in $48 billion over the last three months for a nice tidy profit of $3.7 billion. Chevron likes things just the way they are.
And countries with lots of oil? Well, that's a little more complex. Ask people in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. They have two things in common: Oil and intense interest from the Bush administration.
You have to wonder why our leaders are so intent on building more highways but do nothing to reduce the demand for oil. Have they taken a glance in the direction of public transportation? I would say, start looking.
August 1, 2005
The Wisconsin State Journal reported on the payday loan scandal in Wisconsin. Catch this: Only Wisconsin and New Mexico have no interest cap or usury law for payday lenders. With interest rates often at 500 percent or more, do you think we could awaken the Lobbyist's Legislature?
They used to arrest people for interest rates of 15-20 percent. But 500? How could this be happening in Wisconsin?