March 31, 2006
The Gods must be busy!
I have used the title of the delightful movie The Gods Must be Crazy in several blogs. I'm not certain of the diagnosis, but I am convinced the gods are also very busy.
Recently God was consulted by Scott Walker and Scott was told not to run for governor. (If other advice was handed down, Walker is keeping it to himself.) An odd coincidence should be noted. God's advice was consistent with the advice of GOP National Chair Ken Mehlman, who was visiting Milwaukee and urging a united front to defeat Jim Doyle. Now it is unclear if Mehlman is a messenger from the diety or the Big Money boys, and we may want to ask.
And yesterday God was sitting in a Florida courtroom with Jack Abramoff. The NYT reports that Jack "the corrupter" closed his eyes "and appeared to be praying as his body moved rhythmically back and forth." When the judge arrived, Abramoff said, "I have started the process of becoming a new man." About time, I would say.
Wouldn't it be delicious if Walker and Abramoff got each other's messages crossed from on high? Abramoff hollers, "Judge, I'm not running for Governor," while Walker announces to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "I have started the process of becoming a new man."
In further proof the gods are busy, a long-awaited study questions the power of prayer for heart patients who are told strangers are praying for them. NYT reports that the study says 59 percent suffered complications following surgery while only 51 percent who didn't know prayers were offered had complications. One doctor suggested a reason: "It may have them wondering, am I so sick they had to call in the prayer team?"
My conclusion: No matter how tempted you are, don't pray for Jack Abramoff. Might do more harm than good.
Back to the movie.
March 30, 2006
Off and running
Jon Wilcox will not run for another Supreme Court term and already the pundits are placing bets. The heavy favorites will be those close to the heavy breathers at WMC, Realtor's, Hospital's and Banker's associations. Yes, my friends, money will decide this one just like other races and that is a damned shame.
If the Lobbyist's Legislature won't reform the system, why won't the court set some guidelines? There are many qualified people for this important position, but they won't even get to the starting line unless they take huge contributions from special interests.
Can't we have one branch of government free from the influence of the money boys?
March 29, 2006
Hooray for Sensenbrenner
Read Renee Crawford's moving piece on the march in Milwaukee in opposition to HR 4437. Something magical is happening across our nation and I guess, as I suggested in my blog yesterday, we must praise Congressman Jamie Sensenbrenner for making the entire community aware of just how mean-spirited these folks are in the House of Representatives. Imagine making felons of children or those who help them. Shame on you, Jamie. Shame on you.
But people are talking and marching and Sensenbrenner will not prevail. So, back to the marches across America in support of Hispanics. Not since the Civil Rights and ERA days have we seen anything similar on a domestic issue. Have we reached the point where people won't take it anymore? Come to Bob Fest September 9 and find out.
Speaking of demonstrations, how about the young people in France? Wisconsin is an "employment at will" state. That means the employer can fire anyone just because he doesn't like him or her. (But not if discrimination is the motivating factor--age, gender, color, national origin, sexual preference.)
Not so in France. Employees can only be fired "for cause." You know, disobeying company rules, stealing, or other misdeeds. Indeed, in my experience most people in Wisconsin think they cannot be fired unless they do something wrong. Well, they are wrong and French employers want the same freedom employers have in this country. Looks to me like the young people will win.
Something is going on and it is about time. Maybe we must praise Jack Abramhoff, Scott Jensen, Tom DeLay, Steve Foti and Chuck Chvala. When people decide that their elected reps won't help them they march. And we can watch to see how the young people do in France.
March 27, 2006
Government for sale or coincidence?
It seems like each new week brings more campaign contribution information that makes Jim Doyle look bad. The most recent news, that executives working for out of state firms awarded contracts by the state, contributed thousands of dollars to the governor's re-election fund.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is connecting the dots. A bid is approved, contract signed, and corporate executives give huge chunks of dough. Mike McCabe summed it up: "A classic pattern where campaign contributions flow in after a company wins a contract. It could be coincidence, but it creates the appearance of government for sale."
When the contributions are made public, the governor's campaign spokesperson says something no one believes. "People support this governor because of the great work he has done in this state," is the latest release. In other words, we are supposed to believe that out-of-state corporate executives would have given thousands of dollars to a Wisconsin governor's campaign anyway.
No one believes business executives give thousands of dollars to a politician in another state because they want "good government." And when it became apparent the vendors gave money at events organized by Doyle,(I'm not making this up) spokeswoman Melanie Fonder explained: "It's not unusual for businesses, large and small to offer to support the governor because of his strong pro business record." But it ain't legal for businesses to give anything of value to candidates, including yours.
She went on to say in the Cap Times, "They worked with us to put together events--which is not unususal for businesses that support the governor and the great progress he's made in Wisconsin for business."
Wow! These vendors hosted the events?
Governor Doyle. Save your position by declaring that no company doing business with the state of Wisconsin will be allowed to contribute to your campaign. Easy, direct and sensible. And, I might add, ethical.
Order your DVD of the People's Legislature's "Telling" session on campaign corruption. You will love it.
You must congratulate Congressman James Sensenbrenner. Who else but Jamie could get 2 million people on the streets of LA, 30,000 in Milwaukee, 50,000 in Atlanta? All you need is a racist piece of legislsation that would make felons of millions of Hispanics. Okay, Jamie! Keep up the good work.
No more excuses
In an understated headline, the NYT proclaims today, "Bush Was Set on Path to War." On January 31, less than two months prior to the invasion, Bush and Tony Blair wrote the script of the story they would use to justify the invasion. In the memo stamped "Extremely Sensitive," it is clear they knew there were no WMDs; there was no linkage with 9-11; they didn't care if the UN passed another resolution or not. They were going to war.
A bumper sticker featured in the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal that reads "I never thought I'd miss Nixon" brought a chuckle, but also reminds us that Congress once sat as an equal branch of government. Yes, Watergate was a crime and so was the cover up. But look at the intentional misleading of the international community, the Congress, the military and the American people in the false claims that have led to thousands of American injuries, 2,308 deaths, as many as 100,000 Iraqi deaths, the destruction of our image in the world and on and on.
And people get upset with a censure motion? (Of course going to war under false pretenses is less urgent than George Mason defeating UConn. Come to think of it, the invasion was in March, so perhaps madness is part of the package.)
March 26, 2006
As we approach the decision concerning the constitutional amendment that would outlaw civil unions and burn discrimination into the state's Constitution, the following was forwarded by a friend of FightingBob.
On March 1, in Annappolis, at a hearing on a similar constitutional amendment in Maryland, Jamin Raskin, a brilliant professor of law at American University (and an articulate spokesman for publicly financed campaigns) testified against the amendment. (Hardly a surprise that he would be against it. He is, as I said, bright.) Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?"
Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took the oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."
Brilliant response. As they say, pass it on!
Tired of God getting into our politics? Scott Walker apparently paused during his frenetic gubernatorial fundraising to "pray on it." And, by golly, God was quick, direct, and, in my view, correct. She told Walker to get out of the race for governor. (And I thought March Madness was restricted to basketball.)
March 25, 2006
Some of the news
If the NYT publishes "all the news that's fit to print," we in Wisconsin settle for some of the news, fit to print or not. Last Saturday, our regular Friday blogger Bill Kraus and I attended a blogger conference. One question asked during the forum was, "What is the role of the blogger?"
One role is to fill in the blanks in the regular media. Take, for example, the announcemenet by neocon Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker that he is dropping out of the race for governor. The State Journal and the MJS focused on fundraising problems and so did Walker. This was all about money. Nothing about policy. One more example of what has gone wrong with our corrupt political process.
After whining about money-raising problems, Walker did say it was, and I'm not making this up, "God's will." He said he "prayed on the decision this week before making the decision, I believe that it was God's will for me to step out of the race." Wow! I wonder who told him to get in? The devil perhaps? (Note, lower case.)
Now if God is involved, was he or she involved in fundraising? The nearly bankrupt Milwaukee Public Museum? The County of Milwaukee that may, according to Walker, be forced to file for bankruptcy?
Is there any doubt why people don't trust politicians? Scott Walker went to the "temple" of Jim Klauser and Jim Haney and these angels must have told Scott that the "holy ones" were opposed to funding Walker, Doyle and Green. Two is okay, but not all three.
Back to our role. Where is any substantive background on Walker's pathetic performance as County Executive?
The MJS did report that Green ran radio spots by asserting that Walker's campaiagn began "by telling a lie." Once Walker dropped out he and Green are best of friends, pals, former legislative supporters of another Scott--Jensen--and united in defeating Doyle.
March 24, 2006
Yes, it is Friday and the Legislature is not in session. Time to celebrate.
Let's begin with UW researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka, who solved the mystery of why bird flu does not pass easily to humans. Makes us proud of our world-class university. His discovery may well lead to an effective vaccine. Well done.
Condoleeza Rice wants to be NFL Commissioner. I support that move and suggest Rumsfeld for hockey, Cheney for rugby and W. for baseball. The teams could be armed as part of future pre-emptive strikes. Go Condi!
Am I dreaming? The Wisconsin State Journal editorialized that we owe school board member Bill Keys a big thank you for public service. Of course it was not without a reminder that Keys led the fight to stop the recitation of the pledge of allegiance every day by school kids. (I wonder if State Journal reporters begin the day holding hands with editors while pledging allegiance. Nice visual.)
Told you so. We brought suit to stop the contract with Accenture. Judge William Faust denied our claim, but the incompetence of Accenture and the Elections Board certainly demonstrate that Madison Teachers, Inc. and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, along with citizens, were right. MJS reports that Kevin Kennedy now suggests the voter roles may not be ready for November! Wisconsin could lose millions of federal funds by missing the deadlines. It remains a mystery why Kennedy and the Doyle administration felt compelled to outsource this project.
Stay tuned: The DVD capturing the People's Legislature's "telling" session in the Capitol will be available next week. You will love it and you can use it to host a session in your home. Time for reform.
Bob Fest V: Mark your calendar. Saturday, September 9, in Baraboo, our fifth Fighting Bob Fest.
March 23, 2006
Just when you think....
You have heard it all, something happens to remind you that the mystery of government is a gift that never stops giving. Scott Jensen, convicted felon, may yet stick the taxpayers with a large chunk of his legal fees while assuring Badgers, "I have not given up the dream of public service...I will remain committed to making Wisconsin a better place."
That is what he said while David Callender of the Capital Times reports that neocon Clint Bolick, of the pro-voucher group Alliance for School Choice, assured us that Scott will continue to work for his organization.
We will "continue to stand behind him as he considers his legal options which include an appeal." Who knew that Jensen was working for a pro-voucher national organization while voting on the issue in the Legislature? Whoa Nelly!
Granny D urged us to attend legislative hearings and raise hell if any member of a committee was taking money from a special interest in the form of contributions. What would Granny D say about a legislator working for a special interest?
Let's find out if he is paid by the Alliance and if so, when did payments begin? If he does not get paid, what is his role with the Alliance?
News flash: Jon Stewart likes Russ Feingold. Russ was on "The Daily Show" last night and was given the celebrity status he deserves for boldly calling for censure. Well done Russ.
March 22, 2006
Why are we surprised?
I remember watching C-SPAN's coverage of the NAFTA debate in Congress. And I recall Bill Clinton's assurances that NAFTA, WTO and GATT would be like a rising tide lifting all boats. Ah, free trade will empower those dollar-a-day workers in Mexico, El Salvador, and China so they will purchase American exports. And pigs will fly and chickens will have lips.
The free traders knew what to expect but most of us were opposed to free trade unless adjustments for wages and environmental concerns were made. Clinton told us not to worry. Somehow the market would protect us.
But then we learned that many of our ports were about to be purchased by Dubai. The American people, thinking that our airports and ports were owned and managed by our government, hollered, "Hey! What the hell is going on?" Bill Clinton and Tom Friedman chided us as throw-backs to Smoot-Hawley. Compared to Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and other Arab countries, Dubai is almost American. Why, they asked, would we object? It is free trade. No rules apply.
Yesterday Dubai announced it would delay "its $1.2 billion purchase of a military equipment maker" Doncasters. The NYT reported. What do they do? Oh, not much, just "make parts for tanks and military aircraft" in nine U.S. plants. No big deal, I guess in Clintonian terms. Unless of course, we need those parts and can't buy them. I don't know about you but I don't want our airports, sea ports, equipment manufacturers in the hands of corporations who owe loyalty only to shareholders, not to this country, whether in Dubai or England.
Oh, and did you know that lawyers at Foley & Lardner are trying to privatize Milwaukee's Mitchell Airport?
I guess we had better sleep with one eye open.
March 21, 2006
Way to go Russ!
While his fellow Senators hang around the cloak room making calls for campaign donations, Russ Feingold has hit his stride. We haven't had a maverick to cheer for in many moons. J.W. Fulbright, Wayne Morris, Gaylord Nelson, Bill Proxmire, Paul Simon, Hubert Humphrey and Gene McCarthy come to mind. And Russ has captured the moment and joined that group. People are desperate for leadership and Russ stepped up to the plate.
The vast majority of the people are sick to death of Rove, Cheney, Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld, not to mention Homeland Security's Chertoff looking for terrorists in every library and under every bed.
Bush intentionally broke the law. Attorney Feingold said, "You must pay a price for that," and Harry Reid about passed out on the Senate floor. One could almost hear him saying, "I'm the leader so don't do anything."
According to MJS, Russ received sustained applause in northern Wisconsin over his censure motion as well he should. Hundreds of thousands have signed petitions in support of his position. One opinion poll says 70 percent of the rank-and-file Democrats in the nation agree with him.
Way to go Russ! You are now the conscience of the Senate. Would someone nudge our other Senator? Please.
March 20, 2006
Vive la difference!
While taken out of context, the phrase hit me on Saturday as Shepherd Express publisher, FightingBob.com contributing editor and fellow progresssive Louis Fortis and I surveyed the crowd of rightwing bloggers assembled in a Waukesha hotel Saturday. This was Wispolitics.com's first Blogorama.
Before I arrived someone asked how many in the audience of about 80 were bloggers and nearly all hands shot up. Asked how many were conservative and all but two or three hands went reaching for the ceiling. For unknown reasons, I agreed to be on a panel with Charlie Sykes, and while lots of laughs followed, no minds were changed. This was hardcore neocon. I suspect the audience would place Sykes somewhere near the middle of the spectrum.
What hit me is how different Bob.com is from the others. Bob.com was born at Bob Fest as a way to give voice to progressives and to motivate progressives to act on their principles. Like the People's Legislature, Bob.com is part of a movement. That fact sets us apart from the folks we heard on Saturday. Enough.
President Bush said two things to commemorate the anniversary of the Iraqi invasion on Saturday. "The decision was a difficult one," and, "We will finish the mission."
Mind if we ask, "What mission?"?
Keep reminding Herb Kohl that he should join Russ Feingold in sponsoring a censure motion for illegal wiretaps, unless, of course, he wants to impeach.
Final note. Recommend Elizabtth Kolbert's "Chilling" in the "Talk of The Town" in the March 20 issue of the New Yorker. If you think global warming is a problem for your grandchildren, think again. It's now and it may already be too late.
March 19, 2006
Three years later
Can't help but think about the invasion of Iraq on the 3rd anniversary of that awful decision by the Bush folks. You need no help from me concerning the 51 Wisconsin soldiers who have been killed, the tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, the hatred of America as a result of this travesty.
What bothers me is the continuing silence of Congressional Democrats with notable exceptions Murtha, Feingold, Kucinich, and our friend, and Bob Fest keynote speaker, John Conyers. (John Edwards made it clear his support was a mistake. And the others? 2008 will be too late.)
What are the silent ones waiting for? Eighty percent of the people oppose our involvement; a similar percentage of Iraqis want us out. The world is laughing at us. Can't those who reside in D.C. get it?
Speaking of Democrats, guess who sits on the board of the bully American Transmission Co.? You know, the ATC that ran roughshod over people, towns, villages and counties for the extension cord from Duluth to Wausau. Yup. That ATC. Former Governor Tony Earl a partner at Quarles & Brady. Why.
Finally, why won't Herb Kohl support Russ on his motion to censure the president for breaking the law? And how can one explain the incredible response from Mark Dayton and others who condemned Russ, not Bush? The gods may not be crazy but the Democrats in the Senate are.
C'mon Herb. Why hold office if you can't stand for principle?
March 18, 2006
Return to good news?
Lemme see. One week in Mexico and we returned relaxed and eager to read lots of good news. Instead, Mike McCabe alerted me to the new campaign manager for the Doyle-Lawton campaign. Almost unbelievable, and I wish it were. Yes, Dan Schooff will leave the "independent" Public Service Commission to head the campaign. The Doyle/Lawton campaign sent emails announcing the "good news." Whoa Nelly.
For months the PSC has been accused of being a lapdog for the utilities instead of a watch dog, and Nino Amato and others, including E. Michael McCann, pointed to utility fundraising for Doyle on the eve of big PSC decisions. Now Doyle makes a political blunder that is almost beyond belief. In essence, this appointment takes cynicism to a new level. (Read Bill Kraus's blog for more.) The Doyle chair of the "independent" PSC is married to the chief fund raiser for Doyle. Coincidence. Coincidence.
Ah, but some good news. Mark Sostarich is back! Yes siree, the Supreme Court ruled that Gary George's pal can practice law again. His license was suspended for 18 months for his kickback scheme with George. Maybe he could return to leadership in the state Democratic Party. Wonder what Gary is thinking in federal prison. Double standard? Nah, this is Wisconsin.
I might return to Mexico.
March 13, 2006
Ed Garvey will be out of the country and away from GarveyBlog until this weekend. In the meantime, don't miss the daily entries in GuestBlog and feel free to read what you might have missed on the GarveyBlog page.
March 12, 2006
Jensen found guilty
Could there be a more compelling scenario for public financing? Chuck Chvala convicted for "pay to play" and Scott Jensen for using state employees to raise funds. Egad! Can't we pay for our elections? If not, why not? The burden has shifted. The incumbents and their masters at WMC must tell us why private funding of campaigns is better.
Make it good boys. The people want action.
March 11, 2006
C'mon! Give us Hillary!
Now that the Bush crowd has been found incompetent by nearly all who follow politics closely, not to mention two out of three Americans, the money boys are focused on 2008. Every meeting of Republicans, every speech by Republican leaders, seems to get to their very objective view that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Naturally they describe her as being "way too liberal" to win, but they are already conceding that she will win the nomination.
And the phony polls pitting Hillary against Condi or Hillary vs. McCain fill the corporate media. The American people should listen up, by golly. If the Republican neocons want Hillary as the opponent, serve her up. Right? And too liberal?
Hillary served on Wal-Mart's board for six years; flew free on Wal-Mart's corporate jets; managed Wal-Mart's legal affairs with the Rose law firm. Too liberal? Pro-war, increasingly moderate on a woman's right to choose, racing to the right, it is a huge stretch to think of her as anything other than DLC. But if Karl Rove wants her as an opponent, enough said.
Some good news. Instant Runoff Voting was used to elect the mayor of Burlington. (No, not Wisconsin. Vermont.) The Burlington Free Press hailed IRV "a smashing success." Wouldn't it be fun to experiment with democracy instead of watching the Lobbyist's Legislature in Wisconsin fool around with the death penalty, TABOR and vouchers? Ah, too much to ask?
Jensen found guilty. After nearly three days of deliberating, the jury found Jensen guilty on all counts including three felonies. Nine women and three men returned their verdict Saturday morning. Sentencing will come in 30 days. Congratulations to Brian Blanchard who said, "It shows no one is above the law."
As Bill Kraus opines, Jensen has done a lot for publicly financed elections. Time for action.
March 10, 2006
I recommend you read "When we were soldier-scholars" by Bruce Murphy if you haven't already. He goes behind the death of Michael Joyce, who headed the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, to explain how Joyce used foundation money in support of his neocon ideology. (Murphy didn't mention him, but Joyce's prize student in Wisconsin is none other than Journal Communications' own Charlie Sykes.)
Murphy points to W-2 and school vouchers as two concepts developed and pushed by the arch-conservative Bradley Foundation under Joyce. I once appeared on WPR with Joyce who attacked a TV program we produced on the voucher controversy. Joyce said that he once thought of me as a joke but now, he concluded, "He is dangerous." High praise in my book.
Much news ahead as we look at the output from the Lobbyist's Legislature. In the meantime, check our Documents page for Granny D's People's Legislature speech. I predict you will smile, laugh and decide to get more involved.
March 9, 2006
One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows a cat pulling a mouse in a wagon. The other mouse shouts: "Think! Why is he being so nice to you?"
The shout of "think" should occur everytime this Lobbyist's Legislature takes the floor. Anti-gay, pro-gun; death penalty not reform; the list boggles the mind. Lord of the Flies comes to mind.
One example--new caps on pain and suffering. (The Medical Society lobbyists are pulling the mouse.) The Supreme Court threw out the arbitrary limit of $350,000. Why? No evidence of a rational basis and, as Tommy used to say, one size doesn't fit all. So this group, following the Medical Society's lead, said, "Hey, we don't need evidence. Just raise the cap to $750,000." Whoa Nelly!
Why is one arbitrary cap transformed into rational thought by a higher number? This crew ought to get out of town before they do more damage.
March 8, 2006
Where are we Toto?
A Supreme Court Justice testfiying in a criminal case; right-to-life state senators in Wisconsin voting for the death penalty; a referendum to alter our Constitution to discriminate against a minority; Tom DeLay wins Republican primary with 62 percent of the vote; our ports are not controlled by our country. Egads!
Something has gone wrong. So, let us celebrate the 80th birthday of our regular Friday blogger, Bill Kraus, everyone's favorite Republican reformer. Happy birthday Bill. Maybe by your 81st the Legislature and the governor will follow your advice by reforming our corrupt system.
March 7, 2006
Piano player Jensen
If we listen to former Jensen aides, Scott "Scooter" Jensen was only the piano player in the lobby. He had no idea what was going on upstairs. The consumate power broker, the center of rightwing legislative power achieved through fundraising and the clever, albeit illegal, use of taxpayer money to hire staff to elect other neocons, would have us believe he was a casual observer of his office, his party, his caucus.
For a reality check, read GuestBlogger Bill Kraus. Bill points out that unpaid party people used to do what the Jensen's staff was doing. Selecting candidates, raising money, preparing campaign literature, and all the other stuff.
No, it doesn't pass the reality check. This is Karl Rove trying to convince us that he didn't know the Bush administration was planning an invasion of Iraq.
On a bright note, we have posted the speech of Granny D. Haddock on our Documents page. Read, smile, laugh out loud, and then take her words to heart. A remarkable woman with a message for all reformers.
Finally, Robert Miranda takes on Scott Walker. What was County Exec Walker talking about when he talked about San Diego?
March 6, 2006
Business is good!
The JS reports that attorneys involved in the Miller Park dispute did okay. How much is okay? Well, not in the tobacco settlement amounts but close.
Unsealed court documents reveal a $37 million legal bill. The Stadium District "has concluded it spent $17.83 million representing almost half the estimated legal costs for all parties."
Was anyone in charge? And who pays that $17 million? Not surprisingly, one of the insurance companies is contesting the amount. "None of the controls typically used in large, complex litigation to manage costs and encourage efficiency seems to have been used," according to one attorney working for an insurance company. Another said, "This was the fox guarding the henhouse."
Missing from the story are names of the law firms and the name of the person watching the henhouse. Was the Stadium Board asleep?
I suppose we are lucky. Washington, D.C., will spend $611 million to build a new baseball stadium. Think they might have spent the money on schools? Nah, just dreaming I guess.
March 5, 2006
I'm confused. You?
John R. Bolton, the U.N. wrecking ball sent to New York by Dick and George, explained why India and Pakistan are not in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Ready for this? Bolton said, "They are not in violation because they never signed it." Ah, truth is funnier than fiction. Iran, on the other hand, might get our full military attention because they want what India, Pakistan, Libya and Israel have. Make sense? If so, stop reading.
David Brooks, NYT columnist and regular Friday guest on Jim Lehrer's NPT program, explained why President Bush made a deal with India: "They have a democracy." Simple enough. So Mark Shields asked him, "If Iran becomes a democracy can they proceed with their nuclear program?" Brooks had the look of a kid with hand in cookie jar.
Any wonder why the world is laughing at us?
March 4, 2006
Paranoid? Who is paranoid?
I recall the HUAC period of our history not to mention Nixon's enemies list. I remember friends thinking their phones were tapped because they were opposed to the war in Vietnam or were part of the Civil Rights movment.
I used to think they were paranoid. Later we learned they understated the problem. Their phones were tapped, Martin Luther King's phone was tapped. So, that was then, this is now.
Amy Goodman interviewed a VA nurse in New Mexico who wrote a letter to the editor commenting on Katrina and Iraqi occupation. Result? The FBI seized her computer and she is under investigation for sedition. I'm not making this up.
Congressman Peter King, Republican and chair of Homeland Security Security Committee opposed the Bush deal to permit a foreign country to operate our ports. A few days later King was told, according to NYT, that the plane he was going to use for a trip to Iraq was no longer available. Whoa Nelly! If Peter King is punished, you folks had better anticipate a return to the days of Joe McCarthy, HUAC, and lists. I don't like it. Paranoid? Ask Congressman King.
Thank you Russ Feingold for fighting the Patriot Act.
March 3, 2006
Gard on education?
People ask of lot of John "I get $88 per day but live in Dane County" Gard, speaker of the Lobbyist's Legislature. But when you listen to him talk about education, you realize that our best and brightest are not filling our Legislature.
But catch this. John Gard out-negotiated Harvard-educated Jim Doyle. Yes siree; 7,500 more students are eligible for vouchers in Milwaukee thanks to a lousy deal accepted by Jim Doyle.
The good news is that Democrats came alive. Senator Lena Taylor, a rising star, led the fight for public schools and Milwaukee property taxpayers who will bear the cost of this Bradley Foundation created, Sykes pushed, Gard negotiated social experiment. As for the children? Toughen up kids! And, of course, things are fine in River Hills and Mequon. Just ask Gard and Alberta Darling. So, what's all the fuss? Poor families can just move to those school districts. Right? Wrong.
Recall the first proposal regarding vouchers? The media reported on a teary-eyed Tommy Thompson who said it would "help poor black parents"--never explaining their property taxes would fund the program; never admitting there were no standards for voucher schools; never setting a limit on the numbers or offering state aid to Milwaukee public schools to make up for the lost revenues to voucher schools. Never explaining how the kids in public school will be hurt. Nope.
Gard let us in on their plan. "It will grow to a size to stalilize it for years." It, is, of course, the Bradley Foundation's voucher program. Are they satisfied with 22,500 slots? Hell no. "It will grow" says Gard.
In the meantime, Scott Walker, Milwaukee County Exec, is yelling May Day! for his budget and threatening to declare bankruptcy. (Fiscal not intellectual, although it might be a two-fer.) Read the MJS story. Cost of this to Milwaukee property taxpayers? Eighteen million dollars, according to Rep. Fred Kessler.
Senator Tim Carpenter said it well: "A lot of people are looking to the next election...not the next generation."
The Republican leadership would not permit roll call votes on 150 amendments offered. Why not bar citizens and the media from the Legislature? Who needs to know how thes folks are behaving? Get out the dunce cap!
March 2, 2006
Is he nuts?
You have to wonder. Would-be-governor Scott Walker, Milwaukee County Executive, is in a panic. While the Republican leadership holds a hearing in ultra-conservative neighboring Waukesha county on the latest suicide pact for Wisconsin dubbed the Taxpayer Protection Amendment (TABOR with an after-taste), Walker is threatening to holler MAY DAY! No, not international solidarity day, but the international distress signal.
Walker, a neocon, no doubt supports TABOR or TPA, announced that Milwaukee County may face bankruptcy under his leadership. (No wonder he wants to move to Madison.) He is calling on the unions and the state to bail out Milwaukee. He wants the state government that he would cripple with TABOR to allow him out of collective bargaining agreements. He "likens it to private-sector workout plans by the auto and airline industry" according to MJS. He wants the state to pay all costs of the court system and he wants the union to terminate or reduce retiree health benefits.
Could be some campaign material in all this. "Elect me. I closed Milwaukee." Or, "Who needs benefits anyway?"
Walker supported taxing people to pay for Selig's stadium; he supported the outrageously expensive Super-Max prison; he opposes parole and alternatives to correction; he wants to essentially eliminate corporate taxes; he would privatize Milwaukee's parks; he watched while the Museum of Natural History almost went under; and now he wants help. Well, Scott, get in line. The que is long.
Katrina not a surprise after all! AP released secret tapes, as you know by now. Bush knew, Chertoff knew, Condi knew, Cheney, fly-fishing in Wyoming, knew. They all knew; all denied it; all slept soundly while nursing home residents were left to die. Accountability? Nah. There's a war on.
MoveOn.org summed it up: "President Bush didn't ask a single question during the briefing. In the next two days he campaigned, attended a birthday party and played guitar while the worst natural disaster in American history killed over 1,300 people and displaced hundreds of thousands." Whoa Nelly! What was he thinking?
March 1, 2006
Ah, the mind of a legislator!
If you can't improve the employment picture for minorities in Milwaukee; if you can't help the struggling family farm; if you are out of ideas for raising revenues for Special Education, and if global warming is about to destroy our forests, and prisons are full, tuition out of reach for working families, if Wal-Mart is gobbling up our landscape and destroying small business, then what does a poor legislator do?
Got the answer last night and it is quite something. The answer is to pick on gays. Yup! Right here in progressive Wisconsin. Under the false notion that they are protecting marriage, they threaten those people and colleagues they think are "different".
Mark Pocan said it well on the floor. "If you want to preserve marriage, outlaw divorce." Ah, but Pocan deals with truth and that doesn't go over well with the majority. Nope! Get those gays to move out of Wisconsin. Who nees 'em?
Shame on those legislators who voted yes. Soon we will have our turn to vote. Think about it.