May 31, 2006
If our prisons and our treatment of inmates are anything they are a glimpse into ourselves. How we treat prisoners defines us. Our legislators constantly add more time for crimes, add more crimes, complain if inmates are permitted any privileges and thump their chests when they can punish prisoners every day.
Rehabilitation? Forget it. Treatment for mental illness and drug addiction? Surface at best. Cruel and unusual punishment? You bet.
Now the federal governmnent is upset with Wisconsin. How bad can we be to rile up the Department of Justice of Alberto Gonzales? Well, visit Taycheedah, our women's prison, and you will find out. The feds have been there for a year. Inmates with mental illness are kept in isolation and often are given no treatment (read today's MJS story.) The Civil Rights Division called Wisconsin's treatment of women at Taycheedah "unacceptable and a violation of their constitutional rights." The message to Governor Doyle was clear--voluntarily correct the problem or face possible legal action by the federal government.
Sheldon Wasserman of Milwaukee responded, "It is an embarrassment for our state. This is an absolute horror. What we are doing is something from the dark ages."
The Doyle DOC spokesman said, "DOC is taking a comprehensive, system wide approach to health care, including mental health." Hogwash! Conditions for the seriously mentally ill in Waupan are so bad a monitor said they would be better off in Supermax! I'm not making this up.
At Taycheedah and, in fact, all our prisons, psychiatrist staffing is "grossly inasdequate." The women's prison has two part-time psychiatrists with a caseload of 400 patients. Figure it out. How much time per patient?
And DOC says they are taking a "comprehensive approach?" Nonsense. Wasserman is right--Wisconsin is in the dark ages.
May 30, 2006
Everything is fine
If you chose to believe our president, we are winning the war on terrorism, bringing freedom and democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq, and the people of Iran and Syria are on "freedom road" waiting for the bus to stop and pick them up. But then you read the paper this morning and the NYT yells "Anti-U.S. Rioting Erupts in Kabul," and "2 at CBS News Die in Baghdad on Bloody Day." In the story on Iraq, "On a bloody day of soaring violence in Baghdad...at least 31 other people were killed..."
And Afghanistan? "Scores injured 14 dead." While the military said our soldiers fired in the air, the citizens said our troops fired into the crowd. Who is right? Does it matter in the long-run? Have we lost the battle over hearts and minds of the people in Kabul? Sure sounds like it.
On Memorial Day, John Nichols, Bob Kimbrough, Esty Dinur, Sid Podell and Will Williams all honored Clarence Kailin and his fellow countrymen who went to Spain in 1936 with the Lincoln Brigade to fight fascism. For a couple of hours, speakers talked of WW II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. If one message came through it is that war almost never finds winners. It is time to "give peace a chance." Our children and grandchildren deserve that chance.
May 29, 2006
Cost of War
Check our link to Cost of War and ask what might have been. To date, $284.3 billion spent. Had that amount gone into 4-year scholarships at UW or U of Minnesota and other public universities, 13.7 million young people could have been on the highway to success.
On this day, let us remember the dead but act for the youngsters struggling to make it. Let's promise them peace. And, While you are thinking about a better use of our money than bombs, read Bill Kraus' GuestBlog on St. Coletta's. He comments on an infuriating situation.
Evjue: The charitable arm of the Capital Times, gave out two million in grants last week. I'm pleased to tell you that $15,000 was awarded to Fighting Bob Fest. This will be our 5th and promises to be among our best. Doris "Granny D" will return to Wisconsin at age 96 to demand reform. What would Bob Fest be without Jim Hightower? Jim will join Granny D, Gwen Moore, Tammy Baldwin, and Amy Goodman at our "Hold Them Accountable" event on September 9. More announcements to come, but plan to be with the progressive community on the Saturday following Labor Day.
Thank you Evjue Foundation and the Capital Times.
May 28, 2006
Memorial Day thoughts
I served two years of active duty but never saw combat. Talked to lots who did and my thoughts this morning flow to Haditha, where 24 unarmed men, women and children were killed by a small group of Marines. Awful, shameful, terrible and more. But who is to blame? Soldiers are trained to shoot weapons but they are not ready to kill. Like all of us, they have some notion of what it must be like to kill a human being and to live in constant fear of being killed but unless you have walked in their boots...well. These soldiers probably cracked. Maybe just one, maybe two but all will be punished. Rightfully so.
But what about our Texas cowboy who sent them into combat unprepared and without a game plan. "Bring it on" and all the other tough talk from our draft-dodging president that lead to Haditha. Bush is praised because he admitted a mistake in language. These Marines will suffer all their lives because of his mistakes and the lies that sucked us into Iraq.
The families in Iraq will hate us for decades. Who should be punished. Bush or the Marines? Or all of the above?
All I know is that peace, not war, must become our national goal or there will be more Hadithas. Let us get our troops home now!
May 27, 2006
Oh my gosh!
James Sensenbrenner did something worthy of praise. He joined our friend John Conyers in support of H.R. 5417, the Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006.
You know the story of how the big boys want FightingBob.com and others to pay a fee. Then they could clamp down on the free spirits and control this forum the way they control almost every other source of news. The bill passed the Judiciary Committee yesterday.
Score one for the good guys--and one for Sensenbrenner.
May 26, 2006
Tony Blair and W. called a news conference, not because they had any news, but because the news of the day was not so good for our president and he needed a diversion. Dick Cheney will be called as a witness in the Scooter Libby trial; Speaker Hastert is under investigation by the FBI; his friend "Kenny Boy" Lay was convicted on all counts; and violence continues in Iraq while escalating in Afghanistan.
The two "leaders" looked like kids getting a dressing down by irate parents. One British reporter asked Blair a Howard Cosell question-"How do you feel now that this is your last visit with your friend President Bush as PM." Bush jumped in to kill Blair at home by saying "I want him as PM until I leave office." One could almost feel Blair's body language--"Do me no favors George!"
Bush, in a staged performance, admitted he did something wrong. "Bring it on" and "Dead or alive." Chris Matthews all but swooned in commenting on this bold move. He said, and I am not making this up, "Lincolnesque."
Matthews calls his program "Hardball." "Spitball" or "Softball" would be more accurate. Lincolnesque? Go to bed without dinner. All three of you.
May 25, 2006
Here come the bishops!
Campaign season has begun and Bishops Morlino (Madison) and Dolan (Milwaukee) are jumping into the gubernatorial race just for practice in anticipation of meddling in presidential politics in 2008. (Recall the broo-ha-ha over Kerry going to communion? Haven't heard anything lately I'll bet. Election is over.)
Mark Green more Catholic than Congressman, supports noted scholar G.W. Bush on the stem cell controversy. He backed a limititation on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
And, of course, what would life be like without Susan Armacost, the power in the Right to Life movement. She calls Doyle's efforts to find cures for Parkinson's Disease and other awful maladies "unethical." (She doesn't seem to get so excited about the death penalty but hey, consistency is not the only virtue.)
Prediction: Soon the Bishops will order no communion for Doyle and come close to a Green endorsement.
The church should stay out of politics or give up its tax-exempt status.
May 24, 2006
Some delusional folks hold out hope that Tommy Thompson will challenge Herb Kohl. I find that silly talk in a dull news period.
To make my point that a nightmare scenario for Tommy would be serving in the Senate and not making money, lots of it, you must read Spivak & Bice today. They point out that Tommy is goint into business with indicted Nick Hurtgen--his former corporate fundraiser. Almost unbelievable.
Politicians, past and present, seem to feel they are above scrutiny. Is there no shame?
May 23, 2006
Tommy, Tommy, Tommy!
While the Wisconsin State Journal claimed that Tommy gave "A rousing speech" at the GOP state convention on Saturday that was vintage Thompson, the neocons were not impressed.
Neocon Charlie Sykes, Bradley Foundation's favorite radio host, carried this account from another neocon blogger of the not-so-rousing speech:
"His speech was a long, rambling amalgamation of rhetoric from his glory days. He spent what seemed like an eternity just recounting his own biography. I thought he was disrespectful and selfish. This was Green's convention and Tommy should have been telling us why Green would be a great governor--not why he was a great governor. [Ed: Maybe he can't think of anything to say.] After the speech he sat behind Green and behaved like an insolent child. He was slumped over, head on hand and...he kept fidgeting and looked like a little boy looking out the classroom window on a sunny day...body language that shouted to the world he wants to be anywhere except where he is."
My, my, could it be the neocons are angry with Tommy over stem cell research, opposition to the death penalty, and his observation that Green is not ready for prime time? Too complicated. I'll just go with WSJ calling it "rousing."
Come to think of it, I'd rather read John Smart's superb article than reviews of Tommy's rhetoric.
May 22, 2006
You gotta love the Wisconsin State Journal's coverage of the Republican convention in Appleton. "Throngs of cheering supporters endorsed Mark Green for Governor," writes Phil Brinkman. Throngs? Really? A few paragraphs later, "throngs" were reduced to "hundreds of delegates jammed into the ballroom." I must confess I was not there, so I'm left with sketchy reports of "straw polls" showing a few hundred delegates prefer one AG candidate over the other. Why didn't the "throngs" participate?
The major party conventions no longer have anything to offer. The money boys decided well in advance that Mark Green would be the nominee for govenor instead of Scott Walker. I would guess it was not a "throng," but rather a gaggle of big money folks from utilities, banks, and WMC operating in the shadows, who opted for Green. And these same money boys have decided no one can challenge Herb Kohl given his bank account.
The same people who picked Green have provided plenty of cash for Jim Doyle's re-election. They like their choices. As La Follette wrote long ago, "The railroad owners and lumber barrons would go into Room A to select the Republican candidate for governor. Then they would go into Room B to select the Democratic candidate. Then they would say, 'Let the people decide.'"
Hard to find Rooms A and B, but the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has the best roadmap.
NRA speaks: For some reason the NRA did not meet in Appleton with the Wisconsin Republicans despite having almost identical platforms. While "hundreds" of delegates were in Appleton, thousands of NRA delegates listened to Tommy Franks refer to the media as "a bunch of suckers," according to WisPolitics. And he praised the NRA for keeping us informed about the need for semi-automatic weapons. He didn't comment on the proposal to 8-year-olds to hunt.
Needless to say, Tommy Franks likes President Bush and the occupation of Iraq.
May 21, 2006
The words of Judge Steve Ebert during the sentencing of Scott Jensen will have an impact well beyond the courtroom. He pinned the tail on the donkey and the elephant and spoke for most of us when he declared our political system broken. And instead of sugar-coating the offenses, he said using taxpayer dollars to win elections is stealing.
It may have seemed like business as usual in the Capitol last week, but I sense a change. Just because "everyone is doing it" doesn't earn a "get out of jail free" card. And those who violate the law now know they, like Gary George, Brian Burke, Chuck Chvala, Bonnie Ladwig, Steve Foti and Scott Jensen, might find themselves asking themselves why they voted for long sentences.
Time for Jim Doyle to make clean campaigns a centerpiece in his campaign or Mark Green may beat him to it.
May 20, 2006
Amy Goodman recently covered the story about torture in Chicago by Chicago police under Commander Jon Burge. The corporate media has not jumped on this humiliating story. At least 192 people have complained that they were tortured. Two city stations "tortured them--beating them, shocking them with electric devices and trying to suffocate them." Sound like Abu-ghraib?
The report will be released in two weeks but already the U.N. Committe against torture has commented. While calling for closure of Guantanamo, the closing of secret prisons, and condemning American interrogation techniques, they noted, according to NYT, that Chicago has not investigated these claims vigorously. No kidding.
What is happening to this country? What must the world think of us? Water-boarding, dogs, electric shocks, whips, Supermax prisoners in tomb-like cells, humiliation, sexual exploitation, secret prisons. Where do these people come from? Are we vigilant enough? How are prisoners treated and who is watching?
May 19, 2006
The United Nations Commission on Torture has called on our country, yup, the US of A, to stop torturing people; to close Gitmo; and to close the secret prisons. Pretty impressive to think how far we have fallen. (Speaking of secret prisons, will the Washington Post ever publish the information they are sitting on at the request of the administration?)
I can hardly wait for the Sykes types to condemn the UN for sticking their nose into our torture chambers. (Perhaps we should invite the UN to visit our prisons in Wisconsin to see how we treat the mentally ill.)
But if the UN found its voice, will Democrats find their voice? Secret prisons, torture, kidnapping called "renditions," a senseless occupation of iraq, threats to nuke Iran, and illegal phone intercepts. Will anything move them?
I am not kidding: The MJS has done it again. Calling for "a middle ground with the NRA," they offer this, "Concealed-carry might do some good." Yikes! Remain alert for their conclusion about the NRA pledge that mayors and police will never confiscate weapons from citizens during a crisis. Would the NRA help out by replacing the police?
English only? Well the demagogues have done it again. Stop gay marriage (good for you, Russ Feingold) look for illegals under every porch, and now English will become our official language. A small suggestion: European children learn three languages while we are focused not on encouraging kids how to communicate with the Chinese, Japanese, or Brazilians, but on forcing Latinos to sing the National Anthem in English.
Where are we Toto?
May 17, 2006
More Judge Ebert
Judge Steven Ebert made some very telling comments during his sentencing of Scott Jensen: "It really doesn't matter today whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. There is no moral high ground. Wisconsin's government is indeed in a deplorable state."
Testimony at the Telling session of The People's Legislature sounded similar.
Judge Ebert said, "There was a time when Wisconsin was seen as a laboratory of democracy and governmental institutions operated free of scandal. Administration of state policies and programs was conducted efficiently and ethically. Unfortunately that's no longer the case."
Right on, Judge Ebert. The Wisconsin we knew, loved and bragged about is but a memory. Time for action. See you at Fighting Bob Fest.
Welcome, Mr. Vice President. Today we publish an article by Walter Mondale, a friend of Wisconsin progressives, with his permission. (Thanks to Bob Hennessy for his help in adapting Mondale's speech.)
As we gasp at the illegal activities of NSA, it is good to recall the Church Commission and the reasons for FISA. Nice to recall Democrats with courage in opposing big brother.
Judge Steven Ebert called Scott Jensen's actions "Common thievery." I would agree it is thievery but not so common. The only people who can engage in that enterprise are those elected to office by unsuspecting taxpayers. Possibly we could agree it is "common" in the Capitol. Steve Foti, after all, said "everyone is doing it" so ain't it legal? Not so fast Steve. But one thing is obvious. Not one person offering money was arrested, charged or convicted.
DA Blanchard made the telling point. As the unquestioned leader of his legislative Party, Jensen could have stopped this travesty with the stroke of a pen. He didn't because it was his source of power.
What has this scandal done for us? Not much. Sadly, not much. Fundraising goes on in the shadows; so-called independent groups funnel millions into our state; attack ads are the order of the day; the Doyle-Lawton administration has lost its voice; and it appears to be business as usual. John Gard even killed a modest ethics bill.
Ah, but not to worry about ethics and fundraising misdeeds. We get to vote on the death penalty and making discrimination against gays part of our constitution. Such a deal.
Time for a part-time legislature. Too much time on their hands.
May 16, 2006
Not what he envisioned, I'm sure, but all eyes in Madison will be looking to the decision on his sentencing by Judge Ebert. I must admit to ambivalence. It stems from my view that incarceration is a pretty dumb way to punish criminals. It is as if policy makers stopped thinking about a century ago and began spending money on more and worse prisons.
Needless to say Wisconsin's Supermax is the example of brain dead policies designed to bolster political careers not rehabilitate anyone.
So, most sentences are way too long; most people in prison would not be there if we really cared about public education and treatment of mental and emotional illness. But we don't.
I won't sleep any better if Scott goes to prison. My only hope is he would then see how dumb his votes for more prisons and for Supermax really were.
May 15, 2006
When the interview with TT arrived on my computer, I chuckled. Tommy proclaims "If I run I will win." Take that Mark Green! Republicans scrambled and called in tea leaf readers and mystics. One could almost hear them whispering, "True, Tommy dislikes Doyle and misses the limelight, and Green is pretty weak, but...".
Well, now the speculation is over. Tommy will be the honorary head of the Green campaign (person not party), brother Ed is free to run again, and Mark Green can breathe again.
In the meantime, read Spivak & Bice's account of the great Tommy bee episode. Ted Koppel had dinner with TT who told him we import most of our honey from Lebanon and it is not checked. Check for what? WMDs perhaps. Koppel dutifully put that factoid into a speech and it got sticky. Turns out we don't import any honey from Beirut. Oh well, point made.
Troops to the Border? Final proof the president has lost it. With reserves down, our armed forces stretched thin, Bush will now deploy reserves to Texas. Is this a spoof or a Lebanon bee story?
May 13, 2006
Ah sweet liberty
Jerry Falwell's "Liberty University" recently announced an altered dress code for students who may now wear "jeans, capri pants," and, I'm not making this up, "flip-flops."
And on Saturday Falwell U gave an honorary degree-- presumably it is the "flip-flop" honorary degree--to John McCain. A few years ago McCain properly identified Falwell as an "agent of intolerance," but now, in his quest for the presidency, he flips and flops and embraces Falwell. Shame on you, John.
Expect John "Flip-Flop" McCain to head for Bob Jones U in Greenville, S.C., where they have honored people including John Ashcroft, Chiang Kai-Shek and Lester Maddox. Was that a confederate flag on McCain's limo?
Ah, I can feel the excitement. Will Hillary get to Greenville before Flip-Flop?
Yee gads, it will be a long two years.
Milwaukee County: The MJS is looking at the fiscal crisis in Milwaukee County. Today, after interviewing The Greater Milwaukeee Committee, the Chamber of Commerce and Scott Walker, the sub-headline tells it all: "What will the public, government sacrifice--and at what price to fix financial troubles?"
Missing from the opening bell are some rather discreet interests. MJS might have added "business, banks, utilities" when asking about sacrifice, but Avrum Lank and Dave Umhoefer skipped those happy and well-fed folks.
But they go down the Bradley Foundation rolodex for interviews and hint that the Bradley Foundation has the answers. Yes sir, "sell or lease the airport; privatize or end many social services; sell some parks (Can't the people join private clubs?) and remove subsidies from the Public Museum." (They have chutzpah. Take the world famous Museum of Natural History, privatize it, spend all the reserves, go deeply into debt, and then drown it in the bathtub.)
Stay tuned. If the neocons at Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, bolstered by Journal Communications' talk radio, Bradley memos, and legal help can tear up the social compact in Milwaukee, your community is next. TABOR? They don't need it. Their wrecking balls are ready to go with or without.
President Bush, caught in another scandal with his approval rating now down to 29 percent, says we shouldn't worry because Karl Rove won't misuse the phone records. Yah, sure Ole. They wouldn't dream of checking on Russ Feingold's phone calls; and Nixon wouldn't tell Colson to firebomb the Brookings Institute or break into Watergate.
Yup. I'm relaxed. You?
May 12, 2006
Tens of millions
Tens of millions of calls have been intercepted and kept in the NSA computers. Possibly hundreds of millions of calls, illegally captured by phone companies and turned over to NSA. Whoa Nelly!
In the 1960s we thought we were paranoid when we assumed every click heard on a call was an FBI agent listening. Turns out they did monitor thousands of anti-war citizens. It was that excess that led to Congress passing legislation to halt big government snooping. They created the secret FISA court for emergency approval of taps.
But Bush and Cheney, acting with the Stassi in East Germany, have put the FBI of the '60s to shame. And the phone companies? Class actions here we come.
Someone should go to prison; the records should be erased, and those responsible impeached.
May 11, 2006
What is going on?
Wisconsin, the proud lab for programs of social and economic uplift for the common people, is now the laboratory for the dismantling of the social compact. Under Tommy Thompson, the Bradley Foundation moved into high gear. By that I mean they could use our state as the showcase for the neocon national agenda.
An end to subsidies to the poor--you remember--"Welfare to Work". W-2 was supposed to end poverty. Right. Then they trotted out programs to reward marriage; vouchers to move toward privatization of our schools; privatizing the Milwaukee Public Museum and plans to sell off the Zoo, Mitchell Airport, park lands and make our freeways tollways.
Why Milwaukee? Well because the Bradley Foundation is in Milwaukee; because talk-radio is a daily drumbeat for the Bradley agenda; because Journal Communications is asleep or complicit.
Lots of reasons but one stands out. If the Democratic Party does not offer a bold and comprehensive agenda to deal with financial strangulation, failing schools, unemployment and health care, then they deserve to remain as spectators.
The closing of St. Michael's hospital sticks in my mind. Where is the outrage? Where do the thousands of poor people who were forced to use the ER as their primary care option go now? To Sinai? Will Sinai then close the ER?
As health care in Milwaukee collapses under the weight of uninsured people, where is the bold initiative from the Democrats?
This is no time for caution. The Bradley agenda is a spectacular flop. Time for new ideas.
May 10, 2006
House of ill-repute
Brian Blanchard, Dane County DA who prosecuted Scott "Scooter" Jensen, has recommended 20 months in prison for lying under oath. Actually it was worse. "For intentional and never corrected lies and intentional lies on the witness stand while under oath."
After prison, three years of probation and he would be prohibited from visiting the place of corruption, the Capitol! How far have we fallen? A visit to the Capitol might tempt Jensen to return to his old tricks. Unlike Steve Foti, who now lobbyies his former colleagues, Jensen would be forced to get a real job.
Good for Brian Blanchard. When The People's Legislators saw Foti standing with other lobbyists, the response was immediate. The chant went up, "Foti go home." Foti proves the incumbents have moved beyond shame so society must bar them from the Capitol. Bob La Follette would understand.
What would we do if Sensenbrenner retired? Not only has he been responsible for vindictive immigration legislation and the millions of people marching in our streets, turns out our rotund congressman got almost $10,000 worth of free meals and that is what he reported. He got more than $200,000 in free travel for himself and his family since 2000. All paid for by lobbyists and special interests. And he is a multi-millionaire. Shame? Nah. It is all "legal."
But is it right? Phil La Follette said as governor, "The people pay me well. I don't need a cup of coffee from anyone. I can pay my own way."
James, you are no La Follette, or Proxmire, or Nelson, or...well, you are in a class by yourself.
May 9, 2006
Where there is despair
A startling announcement in Milwaukee. St. Michael's hospital will close on June 5. What goes first? You guessed it, the emergency room and inpatient services. St. Michael's, for those outside Milwaukee, serves poor folks. In 1995, according to MJS, 38,000 people used the emergency room and in 2005 the number was 40,400, accounting for 69 percent of hospital admissions. The average is 40 percent.
Oh, and the CEO of the giant Wheaton Franciscan Health care (that's right, "Franciscan" is in the name of a corporate giant) explained it was a bottom line decision to close the doors to the poor. The fate of 722 employees is unclear and apparently not a major concern of the corporatized Franciscans. And the modified hospital serving those with insurance for out patient and surgery will change its name. Perhaps they will hang the prayer of St. Francis on the wall.
But we should not condemn the CEO, he has announced a $600,000 grant to provide health care to Milwaukee's poor people through the Milwaukee County health care program. Maybe he will even host a fundraiser in his expensive home or host a golf outing for the Greater Milwaukee Committee.
The JS editorial board was able to deal with the news. "Sad but inevitable," sayeth the ones on high. Inevitable? Really? Who says? And, JS added, it is "a sign of the times." Question for the nuns who purportedly run the Franciscan healtcare giant and to the JS editors: Where will the 40,400 people who depended on St. Michael's go now?
The prayer of St. Francis has inspired millions of people including Martin Luther King Jr. Here is a reminder of the patron saint of the poor: "Lord, make me a channel of thy peace; that where there is doubt, I may bring faith; that where there is despair, I may bring hope; where there is sadness, I may bring joy."
The Franciscans of Wheaton Ilinois should indeed file for a name change. Not for St. Michaels, where 700 employees have lived the prayer of St. Francis, but to their mega-corporation that confuses profit with the mandate of their patron saint.
May 7, 2006
We lost a good one
Yesterday Ruth Bachhuber Doyle passed. She was the personification of the good citizen. She did it all. Taught school; raised four children and lived to see them succeed in life, law and politics; helped her husband to build a progressive Democratic Party; served in the Legislature, elected to the Dane County Board and the Madison School Board.
I had the privilege of working with Ruth at the UW Law school. Above all else, she was fun. Later, she dropped in to say hello when she and the Judge would visit Washington. She delighted in telling me that the young kids applying for law school were so bright "you wouldn't get in today." We had some laughs deciding who would join me in getting a rejection letter.
She was one terrific woman and all of us are better for her tireless efforts, her humor, and her determination. Our sympathies to the family.
Here they come! I have been watching the Bradley Foundation's insidious invasion of our schools, our university and now MJS reports they want a corporate executive to run Milwaukee County. Apparently they have determined that County Executive Scott Walker can't handle the job, but they have other items on the agenda. If Mike Grebe or some other neocon could take charge of the county, public schools would magically become private---except of course, public schools would remain open for special needs kids and emotionally disturbed.
It is something to behold. The arrogance of a foundation telling us to let the corporations rule. Who needs democracy when you think about it? Be kind to us. Please.
May 6, 2006
Oh, say can you speak Spanish?
Can't get over the national anthem story. Scott McClellan says president Bush fakes his Spanish--"he's not that good." So Scotty asserts it is "absurd" to think W. sang the national anthem in Spanish. (My bet is he can't sing it in English.)
Our favorite poet, Calvin Trillin, wrote in the latest issue of The Nation, "Adieu, Scott McClellan". He ends with this:
"Though thick is what you've usually been. From press rooms, Air Force One and choppers,
You've straight-faced, passed along some whoppers. You're rare: a man who never tires
Of representing mostly liars."
Forward Tommy? Word has it Tommy will run for governor again. Why? His people tell him he can easily defeat Jim Doyle who has alienated his base and then deliver Wisconsin to the GOP candidate in 2008. Tommy's angle? He wants to run for vice president with Mass. Governor Mitt Romney. As a midwest governor, he would help carry some blue states, including Wisconsin. And he can pick his successor because veep or not, he would quit after two years.
On the down side, Tommy might find himself defending the wild spending of his that put our state in debt, and there are plenty of fundraising scandals to be exposed. My guess is he will think about all that plus his million-dollar retainers and back off. But I am rarely correct in my predictions.
I wonder if Tommy speaks Spanish.
May 5, 2006
In English--with feeling!
Of all the absurd controversies created by this administration, the Bush Flag Doctrine to sing our national anthem in English only tops 'em all.
To make it even more delicious, word has it someone saw candidate Bush singing it in Spanish! Ah, no, says the White House, "the president's Spanish is not good enough for him to have sung it in Spanish."
Paahhhhlleeeezzzzzzzze! Do we suppose a wounded soldier in Iraq would turn down treatment from anyone who can't sing our song in English? This is a controversy for the ages. And Condi Rice agrees with the president. Yikes!
I would be a lot happier if every kid could speak Spanish, Portugese, French, Arabic and could sing the national anthem in all five languages. Don't you wonder what the president does when he visits Canada and they sing "Oh Canada" in French and English?
May 4, 2006
Go home. Please!
Assembly Rep. Mike Huebsch, a leader in the effort by Republicans to kill ethics reform, has declared the end of this Lobbyist's Legislative session. Why is that important? Lobbyists can now start "honest graft" to their pals in the Legislature in the form of campaign contributions. Money will flow like the Mississippi in spring. (The better news is that they are out of Madison.)
One is reminded of the magical moment when Joseph Welch asked of Joe McCarthy, "Have you no shame, sir?" The JS account says it all: "GOP bloc kills ethics reform in Assembly." And you gotta love the first sentence written by Patrick Marley and Stacy Forster.
"Despite the convictions of five former colleagues in recent months, the Assembly voted Tuesday to kill an ethics reform bill..". I'm not making this up. Majority leader Huebsch proclaimed that Wisconsin's ethics laws are a "national model."
How about enforcement of those laws, Mike? Perhaps Steve Foti could head a task force.
I'm proud of the members of The People's Legislature who turned out, signs in hand, to demand reform. This fight isn't over. TPL will be back at 'em.
May 3, 2006
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!
A couple hundred People's Legislators hollered at the Republican members of the Lobbyist's Legislature to vote "up or down" on SB 1--the rather mild ethics reform bill.
With only 48 hours notice TPL/Democracy Campaign folks responded. They met at the bust of Fighting Bob LaFollette and then waited for the legislators, or as Mike McCabe called them, the "cowards." There was electricity in the air of the Capitol. Only one or two of the stone-faced legislators even said hello as they marched like automatons to their Capitol Police guarded secret caucus. (As an aside, there should be no closed or secret caucuses. Democracy flourishes with transparency not secrecy. Can't blame the cops, but the legislators looked like kids slinking off to the principal's office.)
Of course, John Gard defeated the bill--for now. The goofiest statement came from Steve Freese, R-Dodgeville, who seemed to blame the People's Legislature: "I wish they had been here when people were making up their minds." Whoa Nelly. Timing is everything. Our fault.
As TPL demonstrators waited, an unexpected gift arrived. Steve Foti, the convicted one, stood with a small group of lobbyists looking derisively at the People. The crowd took up a chant, "Foti go home--to jail, Foti go home--to jail." But, of course, he did not. No, he remained to lobby his former colleagues. I wonder if he still gets a per diem.
Asked if he would vote for AB 1 in light of what he learned during his ordeal, Foti refused to go beyond saying, "I'm not a Legislator. I can't vote."
And the beat goes on.
May 2, 2006
Yes he is from Wisconsin. Due to his gerrymandered congressional district he need not worry about the coming election. Every ten years, he works out a deal and voila! he is safe. When we lost a seat, the Dems and the Elephants worked out a deal. Instead of placing thousands of blacks and Latinos in a District where there would be a real clash, they divided Kleczka's district, made the 1st CD even more Republican; guaranteed Barrett's old seat would be a safe one for a Democrat, and left Jamie Sensenbrenner in a nearly all-white, wealthy CD in the suburbs of Milwaukee.
And now he has made quite a name for himself. On December 16, 2005, his bill making felons out of undocumented workers passed the House. What happened then will keep historians busy. Millions of undocumented workers filled the streets. This grass roots movement was begun by our own Jamie S. Not since Joe McCarthy has a native of Wisconsin been so disliked throughout the nation.
And yesterday Mexicans in Mexico boycotted American businesses. Even Wal-Mart. So Jamie S. has cost the nations millions of dollars, embarassed us throughout Latin America, and has ignited the Latino community. He has put fear in the hearts of millions of people.
One can only hope that Jamie is done for a while. Enough damage for one man in one year.
May 1, 2006
One hundred bucks?
Hey! Republican leadership. I don't agree with the old saw that everyone has a price, but even if it is true it is certainly the case that no one gets excited about one hundred bucks. Think about it, Senator. As you gather the $10,000 checks from PACs, what would you say to a $100 contributor? "Hey, fella, you need it more than I do"?
So unless we have "Stupid" or "Cheap" stamped on our foreheads, you can't get your oily mits on the Anwar wildlife refuge in Alaska by sending us enough for a couple of trips to the BP-Amoco station. So keep your $100 and pass an excess-profits tax on those gouging oil companies.
Jim Stingl writes a compelling column about the suicide of Greg Braun in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He returned from Iraq, where he served as a sniper. He couldn't sleep, couldn't focus, couldn't deal with the demons that returned with him. A Milwaukee cop, his final note said "war is a bitch." He shot himself.
Tell me again why we invaded Iraq. It is the third anniversary of president Bush's "Mission Accomplished" statement on the Lincoln. They don't believe it in the Braun family.