April 30, 2006
Listened to John Dean recount stories of the Nixon presidency. He reminded us that Chuck Colson was ready to fire-bomb the (liberal at the time) Brookings Institute in order to get inside their safe to extract the Pentagon Papers. I don't have a quick definition of terrorism, but Colson's idea fits the bill.
The Nixonians loved power and would stop at nothing to keep it. Scary. FightingBob.com contributing editors John Nichols and Matt Rotschild joined Dean and historian Stan Kutler for a wonderful discussion of the sorry state of our media and the Democratic Party. Nichols said the media is so bad because the opposition party is missing in action. Kutler said a Democratic takeover of Congress won't matter much--like Hillary, they will all run to the right.
Dean was more optimistic. He thought a Democratic House or Senate would begin oversight of the Bush administration.
Your turn. What do you think?
Speaking of the aphrodisac power, C-SPAN carried the White House Correspondent's dinner last night. Watching the "stars" of commercial media enter like Hollywood types on Emmy night was pathetic. They smile at Scalia, laugh with the Chair of the Joint Chiefs, knee-slap at jokes told by Bush.
But Steven Colbert saved the night. He savaged Bush and Cheney and the president and first lady were not humored. Bush looked furious as he and Laura quickly left the stage with no smiles. Good work Steven!
Almost hard to recall while looking at the black tie event that 70 of our young soldiers were killed in action in April in that outrageous invasion and occupation of Iraq. More than 2,400 over three years; 100,000 homeless Iraqi people according to the U.S.-installed government of Iraq. But, "ho-ho, ha-ha, are we not all part of this great establishment?"
When Nichols calls them "stenographers to the powerful," he is right on.
We often ask if members of the Bush administration serve in Iraq. We should also ask those beautiful people at the dinner how many of their kids are at risk in Iraq.
Powell now says there were not enough soldiers from the start. Better late than never.
April 29, 2006
John Dean at the Mitchell Theater in Madison this morning. The Madison Institute is the sponsor. Will be fun.
But think about poor Rush Limbaugh being arrested. Perhaps he can do his show from prison. Would be different.
Keep your fingers crossed. The Legislature will soon be off for the summer, coming to town only for per diem. Whoopee!
Next Tuesday--10:00 in the morning. See you at the People'e Legislature to encourage those inside the Capitol to have the courage to pass ethics reform.
Had fun on Joy Cardin's week in review. Bradley Foundation-supported Jim Miller was from the right.
Have a good Saturday.
April 27, 2006
Get out of town. Please!
The Lobbyist's Legislature hasn't solved any problems on the minds of citizens, however the lobbyists and the nuts are happy. Unemployment for black men is over 50 percent, our schools are eliminating teachers, staff, arts, music and even some sports. Wal-Mart is trampling small buiness, developers are making a mockery of Smart Growth. Tuition is out of reach for thousands of families in Wisconsin--many of whom have no health insurance.
So what are these folks doing? I'm not kidding. They want to revive the death penalty; ban a lawful union of gays and lesbians, urge you to carry concealed weapons, and tie the hands of future legislators so they can't raise or spend money. Oh, yes, and they want to spend $100 million on a sex-offender GPS system.
Give us an advisory referendum asking if we want a part-time legislature and a return to two-year terms for constitutional officers and I'll buy lunch at the Main Depot if it fails to pass. Go home please. Now!
April 26, 2006
John Dean in Madison
The Madison Institute, our home-grown think tank, announced that John Dean will be in Madison this Saturday morning for TMI's forum. Stanley Kutler, our favorite historian and FightingBob.com contributor, will join Dean at the University's Mitchell Theater at 821 University avenue. There is no charge, so I would urge FB subscribers to arrive early.
If you have questions call Fred Wade in Madison at 255-5111.
Foti earning a living. In a breath-taking display of hutzpah, Steve Foti, serving a 60-day jail sentence, "was seen hobnobbing with his former colleagues as a Capitol lobbyist" according to JS.
Foti told reporter Patrick Marley, "Everybody in Huber is working today." Foti won't name his clients, but a prominent one is Miller Brewing. His estimated earnings as a lobbyist? More than $100,000.
No stats on recidivism rates for convicted former legislators are available.
Money? Money? No problem. The Lobbyist's Legislature is at it again. The Assembly passed a bill to use GPS to follow child sex offenders for life. This chest-thumping nonsense will cost $100 million over two decades.
Will GPS keep track of lobbyists as well? Might be worth it.
April 25, 2006
Flat Earth Society
While reading the JS article about the economic impact of stem cell research mixed in with the Wisconsin Right to Life moral crusade, my mind floated to the Flat Earthers. How, I wondered, would JS have handled the journey of Columbus? "'Columbus to die falling off earth,' says Flat Earth Society's Susan Bellicost"?
I understand RTL's position on abortion. I disagree but understand. I support adoption of children. But RTL is now pushing, and I'm not making this up, adoption of embryos. Really. Susan Armocost of WRTL is treated by JS as if she is a scientist with a conscience. She knows the limitations of stem cell research.
NPT's "NOW" aired a program two weeks ago on the South Dakota legislation banning nearly all abortions. But that isn't enough. The Right to Lifers want a ban on birth control. What is the agenda for Wisconsin Flat Earthers?
When we have the potential to be the world center of stem cell research, and might find cures for Parkinson's and other diseases, it is painful to listen to modern day Flat Earth spokespeople argue Colombus back into port.
April 24, 2006
Gard on trial
Will John Gard, wannabe congressman, speaker of the Assembly and the champion of per diem excess, serve his master WMC by passing the loopy Taxpayer Protection Amendment to our Constitution in the Assembly? Or will 81 groups lobbying in opposition, ranging, according to Steve Walters in MJS, from AARP to local governments, prevail?
The Republicans pushing this amendment claim that legislators in the future can't be trusted. One supposes they worry about campaign finance reform. What if we pass publicly financed elections and bright, sensible people are elected? Egad! Stop them before they get started.
April 23, 2006
The grand conspiracy
Think of bad public policy and the Bradley Foundation comes to mind. From W-2 to The Bell Curve to support for school vouchers, you can count on the Bradley, Scaife and Olin foundations--I call them the three horsemen of the opposite of whatever progressives support.
Last week the JS headline screamed about lousy graduation rates in Milwaukee. Well, not so fast. The report was issued by neocon Manhattan Institute, a pro-voucher organization. They are determined to study and condemn Milwaukee public schools. They get money from the Bradley Foundation. Truth will not be a barrier.
Remember the Landmark Legal Foundation? (They consider themselves the antidote to the ACLU.) They argued for vouchers in our state Supreme Court and they don't really like school desegregation. If you google them you will find this remarkable statement: "The literary home of Charles Murray," who was funded by Bradley while he wrote The Bell Curve. Yikes! They admit it.
Well, this Bradley Foudation-supported group is back! Why? To sue WEAC. Doesn't matter why. They would sue WEAC for expectorating in public, jay-walking or having an overdue library book. A lawsuit will tie up WEAC in this election year. Mission accomplished.
Wisconsin has become the intellectual center of neocon thought. If that doesn't scare you, well, see you at Bob Fest.
April 22, 2006
Hard to believe that today we celebrate the 36th Earth Day. Gaylord's great idea. How do we celebrate? How about reading Bill Berry's article; giving more to Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club; talking more about global warming; driving less; demanding candidates deal with the environment with the urgency of nation-building after WWII. Oh, yes, and raise a glass to Gaylord.
Sloane Coffin died last week. The Washington Post described this activist minister as "a lifelong disturber of the peace." Well said. He was among the most articulate, passionate and effective voices in opposition to the Vietnam War. He described himself as a "Christian revolutionary."
Bill Moyers, speaking at his funeral celebration, said: "If Bill were here he would have sleeves rolled, finger pointing toward action. He would say, "Sign-up, jump in, fight on!" Thank you William Sloane Coffin. You have been our conscience. Now it is our turn.
More good news--Amy Goodman is coming to Bob Fest V. She will join Doris "Granny D" Haddock, Jim Hightower, Russ, Tammy, Gwen and many more. See you on September 9.
April 21, 2006
"Something made visible by light shining through from behind" is one definition of transparency. There are others, but don't look to politicians for a meaningful definition. Both major parties prefer to operate in the shadows of politics rather than the sunlight.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is the light shining behind campaign contributions. And thank goodness they are. Without WDC we would not know about the Governor's Associations and how they launder money by getting large contributions from wealthy people or corporations far in excess of what is allowed for individual contributions under law. WDC issued a report with the following: "Johnson Controls" gave $40,000 to the Democratic Governor's Association and $75,000 to the Republican Governor's Association. That money will certainly go to the Doyle and Green campaigns.
Under Wisconsin law, corporations may not contribute to campaigns. By sending the money to the DGA and RGA, are they operating within the law?
Why don't we do something about this transparent effort to skirt the law? I guess incumbency is comfortable.
April 20, 2006
News: some good, some predictable
First the good news. Sheila Harsdorf and Ron Brown, Republican state senators in the Lobbyist's Legislature, came out in opposition to the loopy proposed constitutional amendment that would limit revenue and spending--TABOR on steroids. Brown, making sense, said, "We don't need to change our constitution" to limit spending.
Immediately, Glenn Grothman emerged from the 19th century to dump on Brown and Harsdorf, saying they "are in favor of nothing." Get this: "Their plan would not bind future elected officials to limit spending." News flash, Glenn: We have elections every two years because the people get their say. You apparently think WMC and the Realtors are the only voice.
Looks like the "TABOR on steroids" will die. Celebrate, but keep your powder dry.
Now the bad news. The people at the JS can't help themselves. The neocon Manhattan Institute, probably named for the place not the drink, announced Milwaukee's graduation rate for high schools is near the bottom. Scary headline but, of course, the Institute is pushing vouchers. Bad news for us, if it were true, is good news for them. Their goal is to privatize everything. Kill revenue with TABOR, watch public education suffer, and then move in for the kill.
Can't JS keep their pro-voucher stuff on the editorial page?
April 19, 2006
Buckle your seat belts
Yesterday the president was asked if he is ruling out use of atomic weapons in bombing Iran. He said "all options are on the table." Whoa Nelly! An American president operating under his policy of pre-emptive strikes is thinking about using nukes when we have not been attacked and are under no threat. Is this scary or what?
When Seymour Hersh exposed the Pentagon-White House plans to bomb Iran, possibly with nukes, Bush said it was "wild speculation." Yesterday "Wild speculation" suddenly was confirmed as White House strategy.
Bombing Iran would cause unbelievable damage to Iran and to the reputation of the U.S. Will Congress wake up?
April 18, 2006
War with Iran?
Oil futures hit the magic number yesterday--$70 per barrel. And a gallon at the pump is moving rapidly toward $3. Why? Oil companies with almost unbelievable profits last year explain that upheavel in Nigeria and problems with Iran are responsible. Certainly not the mergers of the oil companies and their control of prices. Heavens no!
With our debt out of site, our trade imbalance freightening, interest rates climbing, poverty increasing, schools failing, why not Wag the Dog again? Nothing like pin-point bombing on TV to fascinate and distract the American people.
And, I didn't mention that Iran sells 4 million barrels of oil per day. Take that off the market and prices skyrocket. Who profits? One guess.
It's been a week since six retired generals with experience in Iraq called for Rummy's resignation. Wesley Clark joined the group yesterday. Now Human Rights Watch is calling for Rumsfeld's indicment for personally calling the shots in the torture of a detainee in Gitmo. Stranger things have happened.
All this while the US builds an enormous embassy in the Green zone. Withdrawal? Not until our engineers figure out how Halliburton can move our oil out of Iraq.
April 17, 2006
The high cost of outsourcing
If Mark Green is looking for an issue to highlight problems in the Doyle administration, he should read "State's tech problems pile up" in today's MJS. Not only is Workforce Development's outsourced provider $17.2 million over budget, the company is four years behind. Wow.
Here's the good news: Employees working for Tier Technologies were getting up to $314 per hour, but now, when the contract extension is signed, the get-tough attitude of the Doyle administration caps the top rate at $165 per hour. For one working all year at that rate he or she would earn $343,200 per year. (Slightly more than the state worker who could have done no worse!)
And we won't comment on the Accenture screw-up on the voting rolls or the revolving door of state employees going to work for Tier. No, that would be a 60-second spot.
April 16, 2006
Where is the good news?
Yikes! Playboy magazine ranks UW-Madison as the top party school in the nation. Worse, the media makes a big deal out of this "honor" and even places photographs of Playboy's "Girls of the Top Ten Party Schools" on the front page signing autographs.
a) Who knew Playboy was still around? b) And who cares? Could we get serious?
But here is a ranking that should rankle. The UW Law School is ranked 32nd by U.S. News & World Report. Tied with Fordham. (I think that is where Vince Lombardi began his coaching career.) As for this magazine, since when does anyone take it seriously? What do they know about the quality of a law school? A little transparency would help. Who judges? Who compiles the information?
Proving that we should not rush to the newsstand to purchase U.S. News, Marquette dropped below the top 100 into the bottom tier according to poo-bahs at U.S. News. Yup, below Georgia State, Mississippi, South Carolina and the University of the Pacific. C'mon! Hard to swallow.
Howard Eisenberg helped boost Marquette Law School. The idea of Marquette in the bottom tier is absurd.
Even more absurd? People pay attention to Playboy and U.S. News.
Ah, Easter is here. Renewal. How about a serious ranking system for 2007? And could we tell Playboy to get a life?
April 15, 2006
On this Passover and Easter weekend, we should be thinking of spring, renewal and peace. Instead we listen to a pathetic defense of Donald Rumsfeld from Rumsfeld and our combat-tested president: "His energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period."
Never in our history have retired generals called for the resignation of a Secretary of Defense. It has to be pretty awful for this to happen. "Arrogance," "swagger," and "refusal to listen to his generals on the ground" head the list of complaints. And, of course, a shocking lack of planning.
Rumsfeld should quit; Congress should investigate; civilian leaders should speak up.
Milwaukee: More bad news. The all-white jury acquitted three former police officers in the Jude beating trial. E. Michael McCann deserves praise for his efforts to convict them. Unfortunately, the decision will harden the racial divide in Milwaukee. "No justice" will be heard on Easter Sunday.
April 14, 2006
Arrogance and ignorance
Turns out Rummy is both arrogant and ignorant, although both traits may be trumped by incompetence. His leadership in Iraq from invasion to occupation has cost 2,364 American soldier's lives, 17,600 seriously wounded, and perhaps 100,000 Iraqi deaths. The government of Iraq announced Wednesday that 65,000 people have fled their homes out of fear. Where will they find safety?
Six former generals are asking Rumsfeld to step aside. Not exactly a vote of confidence. As for the president, his spokesman says Rumsfeld enjoys the president's confidence.
And Rummy wants to bomb Iran? How about Korea and Syria? A call from those who know combat for the boss to leave is unprecedented.
Hello Congress. Hello? Anyone home?
April 13, 2006
Ah, the truth!
The Washington Post informs us that two days before President Bush declared that the WMD mobile labs had been discovered a Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted "their unanimous findings that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons." Despite knowing they were not part of biological war plans, the Bush administration continued for a year to "assert that the trailers were weapons factories."
Yesterday the White House condemned the Post for "reckless" journalism. They admit the president was in error but they say it was an honest mistake. The intelligence was wrong, according to Scott McClellan, whose nose grew noticeably during his press briefing. "The White House is not the intelligence-gathering agency," he explained. Whoa Nelly!
Think about it. One lie after the other from Downing Street to Niger. Never has the old saying that "truth is the first casualty of war" seemed more on point. Why did we invade Iraq? I forget.
And Seymour Hersh has exposed advanced planning for the bombing of Iran. The discredited "sources" who led us into Iraq are now quoted about the need for "bunker-buster" bombs to drop on 400 or more sites in Iran. Richard Perle was hauled out for public TV to call Hersh "wrong half the time." (Last year Perle called Hersh a "terrorist." Really. He did.)
Condi Rice declared yesterday, "It is time for action." What does that mean?
What do we do when a president has approval of about one of three, the vice president is at 18 percent, the Joint Chiefs want the nuclear option off the table, but we seem to be on course to bomb Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons? Perhaps the New Yorker subscriptions to members of Congress expired. Maybe they haven't heard about new war plans. Possibly Congress is on permanent vacation. Call your congressman and offer to send him the Hersh piece.
April 12, 2006
Part-time Legislature needed
As my 5th grade nun used to say, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." (She never told me about the empty mind, but then she never watched a legislative debate either.) Well, the devil is busy in Madison. While you are looking for signs of spring and welcoming the robins back to your yards, the Lobbyist's Legislature is working on a plan to destroy Wisconsin's future with the gusto of a four-year-old busting up his sister's Lego structure.
Assembly Rep. Jeff Wood (R) from Chippewa Falls has proposed an amendment to the loopy Taxpayer Protection Amendment that would cap pay and benefits for local government workers. This would be on top of the WMC/Bradley Foundation scheme to dismantle local government programs by limiting their revenue.
Wood has upset his neocon colleagues by insisting on a vote on his idea prior to a briefing of his colleagues on the bill. (Forget about a public heaing. Who needs the public input when we have WMC speaking for us?) One suspects the reason Wood does not want to brief his colleagues is because he hasn't read the WMC draft yet. We know this. Nothing in Jeff Wood's background would lead us to conclude he thought of this on his last drive to Madison.
We need a part-time Legislature. This is absurd. List this amendment with the anti-gay amendment, 8-year-old hunting, ending stem cell research and permitting concealed weapons, and the conclusion is that these legislators need more time at home. Yes, indeed, the devil is busy, busy.
April 11, 2006
Thank you for reminding us
More than 10,000 Latinos marched in Madison yesterday in response to the outrageous bill drafted by Jamie Sensenbrenner and passed by the House of Representatives.
Sensenbrenner reminds us of just how dangerous gerrymandering is to representative government. No matter how angry people are with him, Sensenbrenner is the odds-on favorite to win re-election. Why? Because incumbent members, working with the Republican Legislature, made sure that no sitting member in Wisconsin's delegation is in danger.
These congressional races should be competitive but they are not. Sensenbrenner's district is like a collar around Milwaukee. But he sure has created a firestorm. Maybe Scott Walker is on to something--he should retire. Our Hispanic brothers and sisters, friends and fellow workers taught a lesson to America yesterday. Thank you for reminding us we are a nation of immigrants.
Contrast the march with news published in JS that the University of Wisconsin is one of the least diverse universities in the Big Ten. How bad is it? Major corporations have stopped recruiting our graduates because of "multicultural incompetence."
Catch this: "It's not just demographics. UW-Madison has a reputation for being insensitive, even hostile, to minorities. Students of color have complained that their white peers make them feel out of place by assuming they are athletes or from poor families."
How embarassing. No, worse than embaraassing, it is shameful. And now Wisconsin is known throughout the country as the home of James Sensenbrenner.
April 10, 2006
One thing we know for certain and that is the Bush adminstration still believes in the doctrine of pre-emptive strikes. If someone, anyone, apparently, feels threatened, we are free to bomb the threatening country into the stone age.
Seymour Hersh writes in the New Yorker that plans are underway to bomb Iran. Officials like the quote, "All options are on the table." (I'd like to know where that table is so I could put some options on there that Cheney hasn't thought about.)
Here we go again! Listen up folks. The war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan are disasters, so why not divert attention by bombing Iran and North Korea? China anyone?
Scary times. Read Hersh and form your own conclusion and then share with us. Where are we, Toto?
April 9, 2006
When is a leak not a leak?
Have never seen anything like it. In December Bush wants any leakers fired, investigated and prosecuted. In April, it is, "Hey, can't you take a joke?"
Speaking of jokes, spokesman Scott McClellan said it isn't really a leak if the president does it.
The House Committee, not knowing about the Libby admission, hollered at leakers. Leakers are "a small few who have taken it upon themselves to, for political or other motives, recklessly and illegally" disclose our nation's secrets. Republican Peter Hoekstra said it "costs untold millions of dollars." I like Hoekstra.
As for the president, he isn't taking questions. Will he fire himself?
Welcome Justin Page. His article is posted today. A UW grad and now a lawyer, we welcome him to FightingBob.com.
April 8, 2006
Can't really blame him!
Scott Walker is thinking about Jim Sensenbrenner's congressional seat "eventually," according to MJS. He joked that "Sensenbrenner has looked like he's needed to retire physically for the last 20 years." The congressman was not amused, and responded, "This body is not dead yet."
Since Walker prayed over his gubernatorial race and found that God wanted him to drop out of the race, perhaps he has been checking with God about Sensenbrenner's health, too.
Given the fiscal crisis in Milwaukee County, it is no wonder that Scott would like a new job. He has said that bankruptcy is not out of the question, the parks are in trouble, and the "public" museum is also thinking about bankruptcy.
Looks like Scott would rather run than govern. It is more fun.
April 7, 2006
Where to begin? The newly discovered Gospel of Judas or the president's authorization to leak secret reports to discredit critics of the war in Iraq?
Think about it. We may have been wrong about Judas for 2,000 years if the new document is accurate. He was, allegedly, doing Jesus's bidding not selling out for 30 pieces of silver.
Then documents in the "Scooter" Libby matter make it clear, according to the Washington Post , that "President Bush authorized Libby to disclose highly sensitive intelligence information to the media in an attempt to discredit a CIA adviser whose views undermined the rationale for the invasion of Iraq."
Read that again. The filing by prosecutor Fitzgerald states that Dick Cheney advised his aide that "the President had specifically authorized Libby to disclose certain information from the CIA's National intelligence estimate." Wow! And when did it occur? After Ambassador Wilson wrote his op-ed piece in the New York Times.
This is staggering. Not because it is surprising that the campaign to discredit Wilson came from on high, but because Libby has spilled the beans. Yes, it was the president and the vice president.
Will Congress jump on this and impeach or wait 2,000 years to see if, like Judas, Libby is really a Friend of W?
April 6, 2006
A better solution
If I didn't know better, I would conclude that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board meets in a bunker somewhere far from Wisconsin politics. Today the EB tells us that Mark Green's proposal to Jim Doyle to voluntarily limit spending is a self-serving but none-the-less good idea that Doyle should accept. (What would happen if one or the other dumped millions in at the last minute slips by the EB. And, of course, the millions from creepy "independent" groups is not addressed.)
But the main problem is not in the stars but in their own approach to politics in our state. The JS won't assign reporters to follow the candidates and won't cover the campaign in-depth. No, that would cost JS some money. Nor will they have Journal Communications radio station, WTMJ, provide balanced coverage. Instead they will have Charlie Sykes bleating 3.5 hours per day, five days a week, blasting Doyle while praising Green and laughing at third-party candidates. (3.5 hours per day, 17.5 hours per week, 70 hours per month, about 490 hours between now and the November election. Any idea how much Doyle would have to pay Journal Communications for 490 hours of time? Almost justifies his fundraising.)
Their TV station? Will it have a weekly forum featuring the leading candidates and will they provide free air time for 30-second spots? The answer of course is no and hell no. Journal Communications will do nothing to level the playing field. Nothing.
So, dear editorial board, don't look at the candidates to solve the problem your corporation has created.
Time to ask our media giant to stop kibitzing and do something positive to rid our state of the corrupion that comes with big money in politics.
April 5, 2006
Bring the troops home!
From Amery (53 percent) in the northwest, Ephraim in the northeast (54 percent), La Crosse in the west (55 percent), Milwaukee suburbs Whitefish Bay(54 percent) and Shorewood (70 percent) to the more predictable Madison (68 percent) voters throughout Wisconsin sent a message to Washington--bring the troops home. (Not unanimous, as Watertown voted 75 percent against. What is in their water?)
Given poll numbers on the war, it was perhaps predictable but it was nice to watch the votes roll in. Russ Feingold got a message--Wisconsin is with you! Herb Kohl and Ron Kind got a message--get behind Russ Feingold.
MLK Jr. Sad to recall the anniversary of Martin Luther King's death yesterday. Thirty-eight years ago we lost the most articulate and inspirational leader in our country. Not long after, RFK was gunned down. Their words and actions will live on but we have much to do to live up to their challenge. King said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Yesterday Wisconsin broke silence and spoke on something that matters--the occupation of Iraq. A fitting tribute.
April 4, 2006
Time to vote!
Today is election day--easy to forget given the lack of media attention, but there are many important local elections today including the question of bringing troops home from Iraq. We posted the Cap Times editorial as a reminder. A quote from James Madison is worth highlighting" "No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
As I think about it, our nation has been at war, hot or cold, all of my life. World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Soviet block, and now Iraq. In addition, we were behind the scenes in civil wars or efforts to overthrow unfriendly governments in Iran, Iraq, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicargua, Chile, Panama and many others. Our goal? I guess the primary goal was to establish our primacy in the world and to impose our will on other nations. During the Cold War, the stated purposes were "freedom" and fear of the Soviets, but when the Berlin Wall fell and the USSR collapsed we learned from the White House that the real purpose was to insist on market economies. Who knew?
So, cast your ballot today. It does matter. How long will our courageous soldiers remain in a country where 70-80 percent of the people in Iraq want them to leave?
It must be Cap Times day. Anita Weier exposed the shameful state of our prisons in dealing with the mentally ill in a pair of articles yesterday. The estimate is that 25 percent of inmates are mentally ill and the state spends little on treatment. For a time, these inmates were often sent to Supermax, which a noted psychiatrist called "an incubator for psychosis" given the extreme isolation. Thanks to a court decision, the seriously mentally ill were removed from Supermax, but it is clear that a systemic solution is needed. The suicide rate in Wisconsin prisons is twice the national average.
Read Weier's articles and ask yourself, what have we become?
April 3, 2006
Lots of democracy
Secretary of State Rice and British Foreign Secretary Staw visited Iraq to demand that the elected Iraqis form a government. In a statement for the history books, Condoleezza Rice, according to the Washington Post, lectured Iraqi leaders. I'm not making this up. She told them, "The Iraqi people are losing patience" and you had better get this done.
Fresh from anti-U.S. demonstrations in Britain, Rice flew to Iraq to move the acting Prime Minister out. As we know, President Bush doesn't like Jaafari. Isn't that sufficient?
In the meantime, the Post reports that a reconstruction contract to build 142 health centers in Iraq as part of a plan to develop national health care has been a disaster. After spending roughly $200 million "no more than 20 health clinics are expected to be completed." The World Health Organization's rep in Iraq said, "That's not good. That's shocking. That's affecting people's expectations and people's trust, I must say."
This occupation is an unmitigated disaster. Like the Katrina mess, reconstruction in Iraq was doomed by no-bid contracts and poor planning. Now the U.S. says we must end reconstruction efforts. "Mission Accomplished."
Imagine Condoleezza lecturing Iraqis. That takes nerve.
April 2, 2006
Ah, yes, the reason our country invaded Iraq--to spread democracy through free elections that our government controls by employing consultants, pollsters, and foreign journalists to write stories pushing our candidates developed by our consultants and pollsters. Sounds just like our democracy.
But the Bush administration needs a new spin. Elections haven't gone well for "the good guys." The NYT reported last week that "Bush Opposes Iraq's Premier." Because al-Jaafari wasn't elected? No. Because he stuffed the ballot boxes? No. The Bush folks think he is too close to neighbor Iran and their Shiite government.
Catch this: A senior official told the NYT that Mr. Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept Mr. Jaafari." Why not simply expain to the elected government that they should worry about food and water, the U.S. will appoint the leaders, handle foreign policy, and handle oil? Makes sense to me.
How are things in Palestine? Well, Mr. Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, and doesn't accept the elected government." (At least he is consistent.)
Is there a point where the America we thought we knew is just a bully? Why talk about free elections and democracy if we say, "Yes, but we will appoint leaders who support us."
Good for Russ Feingold. While the censure motion won't pass, he forced a discussion and provided an opportunity for Lindsey Graham to make a fool of himself. Not bad. As for his fellow Wisconsin Senator, Herb Kohl remained silent.
The country is with Russ on this one.
Give us your ideas for Bob Fest V. Our theme: "Make them accountable." (September 9, same time, same place.)
April 1, 2006
A civil voice
We had a treat last week. Former congressman, chief judge of the D.C. circuit, and White House counsel Abner Mikva returned to his native Wisconsin to speak on behalf of the American Constitution Society. (ACS is the antidote to neocon Federalist Society. Check them out and add ACSLAW.org to your Favorites list.)
Mikva doesn't think the people are ready for Russ Feingold's censure motion, but does think they are ready to get out of Iraq, especially since it "will cost two trillion dollars we don't have."
Mikva grew up in Milwaukee, attended UW-Madison for undergraduate study and is now at the University of Chicago Law School. Wouldn't it be fun to have him teach for a semester at the UW? Mikva reminds us of the pre-SwiftBoat-Willy Horton era when decent people were elected based on their ideas and, once elected, treated one another with respect.
More good news: Governor Doyle vetoed the rent-to-own legislation. Pressure from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and the Attorney General's office helped. Good news.
And the best wine for last. Doris "Granny D." Haddock, our 96-year-old wonder, featured on our People's Legislature "Telling" DVD, agreed to return to Wisconsin for Fighting Bob Fest V. She will stir your soul.