November 30, 2006
Forget about the embarassment to the President of the United States, how about us? You and me. Al-Maliki reads in the NY Times that Steve Hadley thinks the prime minister is a fool, a tool, or incompetent. Surprise. He snubs the president in Jordan. Suddenly the entire world is laughing at us.
One reason for the laughter is the incompetence of Condi in not knowing this could happen. After all, the Hadley memo was leaked by the administration for some reason. If she didn't know, she might have raced to Baghdad to repair the damage. No, she remained with the president in the hot spot of combat, Latvia.
Second reason for the laughter--The White House insisted it was not a snub. "Absolutly not" claimed Dan Bartlett. (Let me see. You are driving to pick up your prom date. When you arrive, you are told she went to the movie with another guy. Snubbed? Absolutely not! You have a drink with her father and her mother takes your pictue. Nice.)
I recall the great novel by Jimmy Breslin entitled "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight." This gang is incredible. Three years and 8 months after invading a country, they put a study group together. As the Marines abandon Anbar province, the President tells NATO that "I will not leave until the mission is complete."
Amy Goodman reported that Pakistani diplomats were urging the NATO boys to give up on Afghnistan. "The Taliban has won" was the message.
Where are we? Tom Friedman in the NYT says Iraq is beyond civil war. The society is collapsing. He's right. Any minute Hillary might announce her position. My guess? Bring back Rummy. I can hardly wait.
November 29, 2006
C'mon, give us a break. If a legislator misses a hearing, are we to believe he/she is docked a day's pay? In a pig's eye. MJS reporters Stacy Forster and Pat Marley performed a service by investigating the misuse of sick leave by legislators and other elected officers. Turns out if a legislator or governor does not use sick leave, it accumulates and it can be converted to health insurance upon retirement or defeat. Nice deal. Jim Doyle's benefit is worth $169,000 and 22 legislators qualify for more than $50,000.
Want a hint on why this is a scam? (I'm not making this up.) "There is no mechanism in the Senate for claiming sick days." Why? Because a day off for a legislator has no financial consequence. If a Senator gets sick and is hospitalized, he gets paid so why would he claim sick leave?
Who would keep track when legislators set their own schedules? If an Assemblyman goes to France for an important conference and gets sick, is that time deducted from his pay check? Of course not. Judy Robson should urge her colleagues to get rid of this provision because no one will follow the rules because they don't have to.
Speaking of Judy Robson, she is off to a good start. Her appointments to Joint Finance--Hansen, Jauch, Miller, Taylor and Lehmann--are excellent.
Now, pass the Risser/Pocan Clean Elections bill, give us ethics reform, and then the people's agenda will move ahead of WMC's.
Iraq: The president appears like a depressed salesman. He says it is not a civil war we won't leave until we win while his National Security advisor writes that al-Maliki can't handle the job! So why will things get better? I turn to my military advisor, Calvin Trillin in this issue of The Nation:
On When We Can Leave Iraq
"Conditions on the ground, Bush says will show
when we can leave; they must be less adverse;
Which means we should have pulled out long ago,
Since these conditions go from bad to worse."
I'll take Trillin over Hadley any day.
November 28, 2006
Hot news from NBC. In a dramatic announcement, Matt Lauer announced that NBC has called it. There is a civil war raging in Iraq. Not to be outdone, one should expect CBS to announce that the Flat-Earth Society is wrong.
The world is upside down in the make-believe world of Bush and Cheney who continue to deny that a civil war has been in full throtle for months if not years.
The consequences of this irresponsible invasion and occupation are almost too much to contemplate. Joe Biden wants three Iraqs; Turkey says if that happens, they will invade; the Bush study team, meeting three years and eight months late, says we should work with Iran and Syria; Israel demands we bomb Iran; Syria wants total control of Lebanon; the Taliban is back; the insurgents in Iraq have all the money they need to keep going; Pakistan--well, you know about the stability of ouy ally Pakistan.
No wonder Bush wants a library. He needs a place to hide.
And the Democrats? Like early morning fog, they are softly, ever so softly saying, "Not our fault!" True or not, it is too late in the game to start over. It is
time for a Democratic plan. Any plan would be better than the seat on this cruise ship.
November 27, 2006
Unbelieveable but our involvement in the Iraqi fiasco has lasted longer than our participation in WWII. Three years and eight months--and no surrender on a battleship in the offing. Cost to date--$345.6 billion; 2800 troops killed; 600,000 Iraqi deaths; millons homeless and 100,000 leaving the country every month. How many of the badly needed doctors remain?
Brilliant minds are studying the options. Take for example Congressman and would-be president Duncan Hunter. His solution? "Move U.S. trained Iraqi battalions into the heavy fighting. Saddle those guys up. Move them into the fight." Thank you Mr.Hunter--time for your meds and a nap.
Then there is Bush's success story--Afghanistan. That one has been going on for five years. Remember when we thought Afghanistan was the Russian Vietnam? Well, it was but now it is ours.
Haven't heard from Wolfowitz and Perle lately. I'll bet they are planning the invasion of Iran--or is Iran our ally? Or...can hardly wait for the Baker report. Maybe we could invade Syria as well. The world's our oyster. We're number one!
November 26, 2006
Who needs a lawyer when we have WSJ?
When you subscribe to the Wisconsin State Journal, you get more than opinions and some news. Yes siree. You get top notch unsigned legal opinions on matters of great interest.
The newly elected attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, campaigned on the theme that he would get the state out of silly or frivilous law suits. His example? Cranberry farmer William Zawistowski, sued by AG Peg Lautenschlager. He discussed it more than once and reporter Dee Hall of WSJ pointed out that the law firm Van Hollen worked (?) for represented the farmer. What was the farmer doing? Only polluting a lake. Hey, what's a little pollution among friends?
The unbelievable story of Van Hollen's spokesman is that his boss didn't know that his fellow attorneys in the law firm were representing the farmer. Yah, sure, Ole. And did you know that pigs fly and some chickens have lips? What does JB say? Nothing. He wouldn't return calls to reporters.
Now it is possible he didn't know about the attorney-client relationship, but that would lead to the conclusion he wasn't really working for the law firm at all. Maybe he was paid while he campaigned so he didn't attend regular meetings in the firm.
Now, is it possible that his partners didn't know he was helping their client with his campaign rhetoric? Did they feel obliged to warn the candidate that he should pick another target or did the cat get their tongues?
Not to worry. The WSJ's editors have concluded the suit is silly and should be dismissed: "The appeal is not in the state's interests." Thank you, WSJ. Thank you. Van Hollen's penance? He should recuse himself from the decision to drop the appeal. A tad late, doncha think?
Thanks to the WSJ, I can rest easy. The AG-elect was right all along. No more questions, please. I guess I'll renew my subscription.
November 25, 2006
Who knew? When I heard that yesterday was "Black Friday" I immediately thought this is the day we finally deal with slavery. You know, a day set aside to apologize to African Americans for our past and to plan for reparations. How did they slip this day past the Bush administration?
But, alas, no such thing. No, Black Friday refers to the busiest day of the year for retailers. I guess I've been wandering on the wrong planet. "Black" as in profit not "Black" as in slavery. Shame on me.
Then I watched TV in amazement as people, acting like they were nuts, pushed, shoved, and slugged their way into stores at 3, 4, and 5 in the morning, risking life and children to buy something, anything, as long as it was on sale. Whoa Nelly! I was wondering how those scenes would play on Armed Forces networks. Is that why we are in Iraq? Black Friday?
Then I wondered, how do people have so much money to spend? Have they saved all year for Christmas and Channukah? The answer is not blowin' in the wind, it is written on Visa, MasterCard and others. Debt! Can't get enough of it!
Saturday morning came and so did the news that "Dollar Falls Sharply Against Euro and Pound." Wow. How could anyone question our economy when millions of shoppers were ready to put on the gloves if anyone dares jump in line? Turns out those who want us to shop until we drop into Chapter 7 are worried about the economy. Our trade defcit was $586 billion for the first nine months. European economies are growing while we are going broke in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently, economists are worried that China (you know, the ones who make all those things the shoppers are fighting over) might begin selling off dollars "to avoid being burned if the dollar collapses." That happy news from the NYT, not Isle 3 at Target or Cosco.
Well, get out there and shop. A quaint thought: buy something made in America. If you think about me, a new tie would be nice.
November 24, 2006
My son is an honest man!
Papa Bush, speaking in Abu Dhabi, "took on Arab critics of his son on Thursday" according to AP and as NYT reported. "My son is an honest man" said papa, recalling the famous Richard Nixon quote, "Your president is not a crook."
In response to his claim of honesty for his son, displayed, presumably, while leading us to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a woman in the audience stood and exclaimed "We do not respect your son for what he is doing all over the world." AP reported Bush appeared stunned as others in the audience whooped and whistled approval.
Let's focus for a moment on a few stats, mostly from the U.N. 100,000 Iraqis stream into Jordan and Syria every month. Think about it. One-hundred-thousand people every month, 1.2 million per year and even more, remaining within Iraq become homeless as they move out of the way of sectarian violence.
Last month 3,709 Iraqis were killed--a record. Yesterday at least 144 killed. The cost of war for taxpayers will pass 350 billion dollars today.
Could we all follow the example of Kalamazoo, MI and have free college education for that amount? Check it out. For 350 billion we could provide 16,700,000 four-year scholarships at public universities.
One must feel pain for our soldiers, sons and daughters of working families, (but not the tax-exempt super rich) caught in this incredible mess. James Webb, writing in the Wall Street Journal, "A troubling arrogance is in the air among the most fortunate."
Indeed, as we watch the "troubling arrogance" of Rove, Bush and Cheney, the mind boggles in hearing them say "we will win if we don't quit" or "stay the course" or my favorite "more troops." The good news? No one is listening anymore.
November 23, 2006
Hey! Listen up!
It is Thanksgiving and Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) will introduce 100 percent public financing of all state elections based on the Maine model. (See Heffernan Commission report in our Documents section. Our estimate--the cost will be one six pack per taxpayer. Face it. We can no longer afford the current system.)
Fred said, "Politics has changed a lot since I've been in the legislature. Decisions are now made based on big money rather than big ideas." The Clean Campaign Fund will open the political process for lots of people who now refuse to run because of the money needed. Pocan and Risser say some Assembly races are approaching spending of $500,000 and State Senate races more than a million dollars.
With projections of $30 million spent on this gubernatorial campaign, it is too obvious for any incumbent to deny that our system is corrupt to the core.
This Clean Elections program will put the Doyle Administration's feet to the fire. Will Jim Doyle hit the pause button on fundraising and take the important step of cleaning up the system? Or will he play possom again?
The People's Legislature (TPL) is sponsoring training to help force incumbents to deal with this issue. Should be fun and thanks to Pocan, Risser, Heffernan, and lots of people in Maine, Vermont, and Arizona, TPL will have a clear and tested progrom to get money out of the process. Ah, the smell of democracy is in the air.
November 22, 2006
Deficits and campaigns
When will the public connect the dots that link our deficit spending with special interest contributions? Oh, you think they have? Good. Then when will the media catch up with the people? Less than a month after the election, the annoucement is that we have a $1.6 billion deficit. Ho hum. And someone floats a trial ballon to raise registration fees on cars and the governor quickly says no.
The trial ballon you won't see is a plan adanced in 1998 to gradually reduce the machinery and equipment property tax exemption even though it does not stop manufacturers from leaving the state but does shift the property tax burden to individuals. (And, have we forgotten the exemption for ATM machines?) No siree, can't shift the burden! Why not? Well, WMC would have a fit that's why and WMC is an 800-pound gorilla when it comes to campaign contributions. Besides, the MJS and WSJ would condemn anyone who dared suggest that corporations, such as Journal Communications, should begin shouldering their fair share of the tax burden. "Anti-business" would be the charge.
So, let the circus begin. Our Lobbyist's Legislature exacts the lowest tax burden on corporations in the upper midwest. The result is higher property, sales tax, and user fees. You know, we pay more--they pay less. Then the corpoate spokesmen condemn high taxes, our schools suffer, and voila! We have vouchers as the answer.
Time out! Let's figure out a way to pay for our government without punishing our most vulnerable citizens--the ones who can't contribute to campaigns. It is time for tax fairness.
November 21, 2006
Alan Borsuk, writing in MJS, appears almost giddy as he reports Milwaukee "Vouchers to pass $100 million mark" in Milwaukee. (One can almost visualize his high-five with the doyenne of vouchers, Susan Mitchell.)
Approximately 18,000 students in the city started the school year attending private schools through publicly funded vouchers. That's nn increase of 3,000 over a year ago. While seeming to celebrate this new mark, Borsuk admits, "At the same time Milwaukee Public Schools officials are wrestling with school closings and declining enrollment...the voucher program is booming."
Currently, 71 percent of kids living in Milwaukee attend public schools. Soon, if Susan Mitchell, Charlie Sykes and the Bradley Foundation have their way, the public school system will collapse. In the meantime, property taxes go up to pay for the vouchers and the public schools. Who will raise hell about high taxes? You guessed it, the same people who have sold vouchers to this state.
Don't look now. The privatizers are winning.
Iraq: How bad can it be? Our president in Vietnam, saying "We will win if we don't quit." Yikes. And Henry Kissinger admits, "A military victory is not achievable." Don't you wonder if Dr. K will send a note to Russ Feingold and Tom Harkin saying, "You were right and we were wrong"?
And neocon McCain now calls for reversal of Roe v. Wade. Johnny, we hardly knew ya.
November 20, 2006
In possibly the silliest moment of last week, John McCain, born again neocon, said the U.S. should send more troops to Iraq. Unfortunately for opportunist McCain, but fortunately for us, General Abizad reminded the Senate that a supply of new troops, "is simply not something we have right now."
As headlines scream about hundreds of new killings in Baghdad, and little or no progress in training the Iraqi army or police force, McCain's solution is nonsense.
Charlie Rangel again called for a draft. While the idea has merit, this is not the moment to bring up that threat. First things first. Cut the money-flow to the occupation, get our troops home, and then begin a national debate about the draft.
November 18, 2006
Something good happened. Nancy Pelosi was nominated by her party to become the first woman Speaker of the House. But instead of celebrating that histoic event, the mainstream media focused on her decision to support John Murtha and, as you know, Hoyer beat him. For shame Nancy, for shame! One might conclude that Pelosi should quickly resign her new post and slink off stage.
Well, for my money, I liked the idea that she was loyal to Murtha who did, we should recall, change the debate on the occupation of Iraq. He boldly stated the truth: We have lost the war. A welcome relief from the waffling nonsense from Hillary and, indeed, most Democrats in the Congress.
Now that the elections are over and Bush's handling of the war is down to 31 percent favorable rating, John McCain and the neocons are calling for more troops. Not as many as we send deer hunting in Wisconsin, 600,000, mind you, but 20,000 or 30,000 more. I don't think McCain is serious. He wants to campaign on the theme, "Had they listened to me...we wouldn't have lost." No one could seriously ask our sons and daughters to go to Iraq to become targets in a civil war. No one.
Murtha is right.
November 17, 2006
Say it ain't true!
Asked in Iowa, last week, if he would run for president, Tommy Thompson responded, "Why not?" Why not should be followed with "Why?" but he beat me to it. Tommy pointed out that he is from the midwest and someone from the midwest should run. I did not make this up. What could be more compelling than where one lives? No reason to talk about war, peace, bombing Iran and North Korea, or a broken health care system. No way. Focus on the big question--where you were born.
While governor of Wisconsin, Tommy often mused that he would like to run a large company or run for president or go to D.C. on his Harley. After he is elected President, perhaps he could head the U.N. About time someone from Elroy headed the U.N., doncha think?
Robocalls: Spencer Black wants to outlaw the annoying robocalls used by politicians. I don't like the idea. First, Bill Clinton called me and so did Hillary and Jim Doyle and, well lots of people who never talk to me let alone call me at dinner time. The second reason I like robocalls is because it is easier to hang up immediately than it is when a real person calls for a donation. So, let's just say pols and corps can't call anyone unless they voluntarily put thier name on a list "to be called."
C'mon, Bill Clinton, call again.
November 16, 2006
They can't help themselves!
The Republicans in the state Assembly applauded one another, losers gave advice to winners, winners didn't listen, and they gave out plaques to those leaving, according to MJS. Did they buy the plaques at a local store? No siree! They got them from a Neenah trophy shop owned by fellow member Dean Kaufert. Then, after pleasing small businessman Kaufert, they voted against him in the race for speaker. (Probably made him feel better or, perhaps, he lost because he charged his colleagues too much for the plaques.)
And while this silliness proceeded, the U.S. Catholic Bishops had their own show. The Bishops adopted guidelines on gays. I'm not making this up. By a vote of 194-37, the Bishops informed us that gay and lesbian Catholics must remain celibate! "Homosexual inclinations are inherently disordered." They said that. Really. (I wonder if the 37 who voted no will issue a minority report.)
But the Bishops went on to comment about the favored heterosexuals as well. While noting that only 4 percent of Catholic couples follow the church's teachings on contraception (within the margin of error--it might be that no couple does), these wise elderly men told Catholic couples not to receive communion if they use artificial contaception. That would save money now spent on wine and wafers. That's for sure. Wow! And you wonder why parishes are closing?
Oh, yes, they also expressed dismay that the U.S. Senate is now controlled by Democrats. (I made that part up.)
November 15, 2006
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Chicago, issued a ruling that will have a profound impact on treatment of prisoners. Read this from the three-judge panel:
"Stripped naked in a small prison cell with nothing except a toilet; forced to sleep on a concrete floor or slab; denied any human contact; fed nothing but 'nutra-loaf'; and given just a modicum of toilet paper--four squares--only a few times. Although this might sound like a stay at a Soviet gulag in the 1930's, it is, according to the claims in this case, Wisconsin in 2002."
Pam McGillivray (and a law firm I won't mention) who represented Nathan Gillis, said, "The decision recognizes that the standards of decency in Wisconsin cannot tolerate this barbaric treatment of prisoners."
Well done, Pam. Well done.
November 14, 2006
Belly up to the bar, boys
Judge Stephen Ebert ruled that Scott Jensen, former Speaker of the Assembly, and former Rep Stephen Foti, must reimburse the state for wages and benefits paid to state employees who were working for Jensen, and indeed, a number of Republicans running for office on state time while using state owned equipment. The first $190,000 is Jensen's bill and another $80,000 for legal fees paid by the state. Foti, now a lobbyist, must pay $57,900 for salaries and $80K for legal fees.
Before you hold a fundraiser for Scott, he is not homeless. Nope. The Alliance for School Choice (ASC)headed by neocon Clint Bollick, employs Scott and they pay him in excess of $100,000 per year.
Who is involved with ASC in Wisconsin? Ah, surprise surprise, Susan and George Mitchell. What else is this duo involved with? Recall the negative 30-second spot aimed at Jim Doyle sponsored by All Children Matter? Well, now, it is a small neocon world. Jensen pushes school vouchers as Speaker, gets in trouble, and Susan Mitchell is there to help. Warms the heart. And lurking behind the scene always, is the Bradley Foundation.
November 13, 2006
Voter suppression, photo IDs, false rumors, no paper trail, computers not working. It is time for action. How awbout appointing Jimmy Carter to head a commission to restore confidence in our electoral process?
Karl Rove won't go quietly. We did some plans.
Russ won't run in 2008 but I was pleased he said it would be hard to support anyone who voted for the war. (Hillary, perhaps? What is her latest position now that whipping boy Rummy is out of the way?)
November 12, 2006
Who won? Who lost? What will happen next?
It is tempting to simply declare J.B. Van Hollen the winner and wish him well. After all, isn't that the way things are done? But the real question is who is the real winner? J.B.Van Hollen didn't win this race because of his grasp of the job, his intellect or his record. No, Jim Haney of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) won or bought (your choice) this race. Jim Haney couldn't restrain himself. WMC spent $2.5 million on Van Hollen. I'm not making this up.
Here is Haney's limp explanation: "There's no question that we spent a lot of money--I would say, not purchasing the election, but educating the electorate." (Go to Documents to view the WMC direct mail piece. There you will see the Rongstad-like over-sized postcard that helped WMC "educate" the electorate.)
Why was WMC in a lather about the AG race? Some would say they knew Doyle would defeat a lackluster Mark Green so, with pockets bulging with cash, Haney decided to create a GOP gubernatorial candidate for 2010. Haney's absurd explanation? "Falk outlined an agenda that greatly alarmed the business community." Falk, says Haney, emphasized "a whole bunch of agenda items that she feels passionately about."
Wanna know the agenda items scaring WMC's members? ENFORCING ENVIROMENTAL AND CONSUMER LAWS. Whoa Nelly! Do you think the People's lawyer should worry about consumer fraud and the environment? Heaven forbid.
So, who won? Short-run the Van Hollen-Haney team. But long-run, the new AG has his hands full. He cannot initiate litigation unless Govenor Doyle approves, and the nonsense about his desire to join 72 district attorneys in prosecuting violent crimes will soon be obvious to the people. He will follow WMC's agenda at his peril. The people of Wisconsin are environmently friendly and they will not be pleased if J.B. ignores this critical issue.
But something else. We must do something about campaign spending. No one knows Jim Haney. He doesn't hold news conferences or put himself out for scrutiny, but he has the cash to elect an AG, a governor or a senator. That is frightening.
November 11, 2006
The NYT banner headline read "DEMOCRATS TAKE SENATE"; the subhead was "MIDTERM SWEEP."
Who am I to question the NYT? But might the headline have been a tad more accurate if it had read:
"BUSH REJECTED--GOP LOSES CONGRESS"?
No point in raining on the celebration, but the next six months will tell us if Democrats with ideas and courage won, or Republican extremists, supporting the Iraqi invasion and occuption, lost.
I'm nervous. Witin 24 hours the mainstream media began hollering that bringing home the troops is "out of the question." Perhaps more troops are needed! And, if Pelosi and other Dems spend time on accountability of the administration leading to this fiasco, the voters will be upset. Really? I prefer Garrison Keillor's question, "Will the town drunk remain in charge of the municipal liquor store?" With the notable exception of Harkin and Feingold, most Democrats have not been willing to take a strong stand against the occupation. The voters last Tuesday told the Democrats to get moving!
Bring our troops home was supported in exit polls by more than 60 percent. This is no time for caution. There is a reason for the midterm sweep. Young people voted--and they want out. Progressives voted and they want out, and they want accountability.
Who won? The voters! Tomorrow: Who won the Attorney General's race?
November 10, 2006
Robson and Kessler
Two incumbents in the Legislature worked hard to capture their respective houses. Judy Robson, a frequent contributing writer here at FightingBob.com, was tireless in her efforts to win seats in the state Senate. She was successful, and now with four victories Democrats control the Senate. In the "no good deed goes unpunished" mode, her penalty is to be majority leader. Congratulations to Judy.
When I finished speaking at a Spring Green rally recently, I saw Milwaukee Assemblyman Fred Kessler. Long way from his home. Why? He took on the lonely task of capturing the Assembly and almost succeeded. More than anyone, Fred worked, shook hands, raised money and exuded confidence. Result? Dems picked up eight seats. Best showing since the pre-Kunicki days. Well done, Fred.
The role of the parties continues to shrink. The parties do not select, fund, or staff candidates. And, as the dollar has become the symbol of both parties, they don't even set the agenda. Wealthy candidates run on their own platform under the convenient umbrella of Republican or Democrat. Not-so-wealthy Democrats turn to Republican sources for donations and policies seem to merge. The campaigns usually fail to have an edge, so personality or false accusations take the place of issue difference.
Time to think about a new approach, where good people like Judy Robson and Fred Kessler can have an even larger role in the outcome.
November 9, 2006
The MJS and other papers like to refer the Wisconsin's attorney general as "Top Cop." In doing so, they either demean the job or expose their ignorance. Or, perhaps they are just lazy. The AG has always been "the people's lawyer" not the head of the State Police. Who protects the environment, the consumer, the little guy? Not the "top cop."
Are memories of the most innovative office in the country, the Public Intervenor, so dim that MJS and other mainstreamers can't recall that wonderful office? Do they buy the WMC line that the AG is
"anti-business" if he/she goes after corporate polluters? Or tries to enforce our anti-trust laws? Does MJS suppport the Open Meetings and Open Records laws or do those laws crimp the style of WMC?
We need a lawyer for the people not another cop. J.B. Van Hollen seems confused. His focus is street crime not white collar crime. He is a "crime-fighter" not an Attorney General. Let's hope he grows with the job.
George Allen: imagine the almost presidential candidate losing his Senate seat because of his bigotry exposed in the campaign. Think of Arizona, the first state to defeat a gay marriage referendum. Five states voting to raise the minimum wage. Anti-war referendums in Wisconsin passing in all cases.
It seems like an historic moment. Hey, Toto, maybe things are getting better.
November 8, 2006
What a night! While some thought the Dems would pick up 15 seats, few anticipated 28--so far. Before it is over, it could be 33-35. People will be lining up at Dave Obey's door.
And how about the Doyle-Lawton team? An incredible victory--first Dem reelected governor in three decades. Hat's off to both. Most thought Doyle would win but few predicted the margin. Why did he do so well? Women--60% and people of color--85%; progressives--85%. Doyle got 83% from big cities, 58% from small cities; and, incredibly, 52% of the suburbs.
And, the Democrats won control of State Senate by winning 4 seats. While it might have been better, things have turned around in a big way.
Dr. Steve Kagan beat John Gard. Imagine that.
The ban on abortion lost in South Dakota, stem cell research won in Missouri, and clearly, Jim Doyle's emphasis on embryonic stem cell research was a big factor in his election.
The Attorney General's race could not have been closer. Still too soon for final announcement.
Imagine the mood in the White House. Richard Perle turned on him on the right and the people turned on him from all directions.
November 7, 2006
Start with Ms. Forward
This is Election Day. Begin by reading Ms. Forward's analysis of the season. Good stuff. As a candidate, Election Day was a welcome relief. Everything we could do had been done and then it is up to the voters. I liked thinking, "Hmmm, do they want me in office or are they so pleased with what I'm doing they want me to continue?"
It is a day of nervousness more for supporters than the candidates. If this and if that. Is the weather nice or nasty, and does it matter? Will I win the office pool or am I foolishly optimistic? (When I'm optimistic it scares hell out of my friends.)
But on to other news to keep your mind off the elections. The Federal Reserve says Americans have $810 billion in revolving debt. (That does not include mortgages, student loans, car loans. Yikes!)
Daniel Ortega, going for the Proxmire award--three losses and then victory--looks like the winner in Nicaragua. The United States warned the people of dire consequences if they elected Ortega. U.S. sent threats, Hugo Chavez sent subsidized oil. Ortega wins.
When you recall the Contra scandel, it takes chutzpa to warn the people of Nicaragua. Looks like Chavez won this round.
Last thought: What was the October surprise? My guess--Dick Cheney saying they would pay no attention to the elections. The winning strategy in Iraq would continue. Or possibly news that the neocon of neocons, Richard Perle, the number one cheerleader for the invasion, has bailed out on Bush. The man who called Seymour Hersh a "terrorist" now says the invasion was a mistake.
Tell it to the 2,800 families, Richard. Think about 600,000 dead Iraqis. The U.N. says 100,000 Iraqis leave Iraq every month--another 50,000 abandon their homes. What do we tell them, Mr. Perle? "Sorry, we miscalculated"? And would you encourage your son to volunteer?
Back to the elections.
November 6, 2006
Tomorrow is the day
Tomorrow we find out. Did negative TV spots work? Which party has the better GOTV machine? Will the Green candidates for governor and senator surprise us? If the Democrats don't win control of the House, is this the beginning of the end? If the Wisconsin Republicans keep control of the state Senate, who will be blamed?
Frank Rich hit it on the head. This campaign season has been awful: "The artificial realities created this year are on a scale worthy of Disney if not Stalin." You know, "We are winning in Iraq" type statements. And, of course, the coincidence of Saddam's verdict and our elections. Imagine that! Can't shut-up our generals, pacify Baghdad or find Osama, so hang Saddam!
November 5, 2006
A full moon may explain or editors in rehab, but whatever is going on it is startling. The Wisconsin State Journal (full moon) has endorsed Kathleen Falk and Jim Doyle. And the Cap Times did as well, while MJS endorsed Doyle and Van Hollen. Who knows?
I do know this. Candidates spend way too much time impressing editors. My guess is that less than 1 percent of voters care what MJS does in terms of endorsements, but better to have it than not.
Doyle/Lawton have Appleton Post Crescent, La Crosse Tribune, and the Sheboygan Press in addition to the aforementioned three. Green has Green Bay Press Gazette, Fond du Lac and Sun Prairie. The only endorsements for Van Hollen are MJS and Green Bay Press Gazette. Even the Beloit paper endorsed Falk. Yup, the Beloit Daily News (rehab in all probability) endorsed Falk.
If you don't know there is an election on Tuesday, stop reading this immediately. You are reading this so you know. Talk with you Wednesday.
November 4, 2006
Three days to go
If you read Thomas Friedman's column in the NYT on Friday, you may have thought you were reading the Capital Times or the Nation: "George Bush, Dick cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you're stupid." Freidman rips into the Bush-Rove team for an absurd effort to take John Kerry's botched joke and use it to suggest Kerry, a legitimate war hero, was insulting the troops.
He goes on to say that if this group of incompetents can fool the people and maintain control of Congress "it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account. It means we're as stupid as Karl thinks we are. I, for one, don't think we're that stupid. Next Tuesday we'll see."
I never thought I would read that in a Friedman column. Want more? Read our favorite, Bill Kraus' GuestBlog.
The ban on Civil Unions is having a hard time. Not one newspaper in the state, that I know of, has urged anything but a no vote. And the only paper calling for the death penalty is the neocon Beloit Daily News.
Three more days. Everyone is nervous. While it is often said "this is the most important election in memory," it happens to be true this time.
November 3, 2006
The end is near!
No, I'm not predicting the Rapture. (Should it be capitalized or trivialized? Favorite bumper sticker:"After the Rapture can I have your car?") I'm talking about the not-ready-for-Broadway show we call "elections." It's a show where people force-fed with absurd, depressing, occasionally accurate, 30-second spots. (Anyone who has learned anything from a 30-second spot, stop reading this blog immediately and check into a rehab center.)
While the stem cell issue started out as a slow burner, it caught fire. An engineer in Seattle summed up the position of Mark Green and other pro-life advocates in the NYT : "I'm outraged that a mere politician would interpret science for me." Ah, my sentiments precisely! Worse. Tommy Thompson, who believes in the Doyle position, was pulled out of Washington to declare, "Mark Green supports stem cell research." Really Tommy? Really? C'mon!
But in the too funny to be true category, President Bush declared that he will keep Cheney for the rest of Bush's term. (Have they told him he doesn't have a choice? That the president can't fire the elected VP?)
But Bush was on a roll. He will also keep Rummy who now tells us the fiasco isn't his fault, the blame rests on the shoulders of generals on the ground! And they castigate Kerry? Aye, yie, yie.
Three more days. What will happen? Oh, how about the capture of Osama, the coviction of Saddam, and another announcement that "We are winning the war and if you doubt it we will tap your phone, read your emails and have you fired."
Three more days.
November 1, 2006
Yes indeed, John Kerry is back! This time as a humorist but with a bite. Another Jon Stewart? But this is the new John Kerry. A fiesty John Kerry. Two years late but hey, who is counting? When Bush attacked him (falsely) Kerry did not fly to Davos for a seminar, he told off the president. Had he acted that way in 2004...well, who knows. In the meantime, Message to Kerry: Skip the humor.
Six days to go. GOTV!