June 29, 2006
Polls and those who report the results
Ah, polls tell us whatever we want to know. How do people in Venezuela feel about Hugo Chavez and are people in Wisconsin happy or grumpy? Well, maybe, just maybe, polls tell us whatever the pollster and the people paying for the poll want us to know.
Suppose you had very deep pockets and could poll every day on any issue. Suppose you oppose Jim Doyle and support Mark Green or vice-versa. You call your pollster and tell him or her to find out how the head-to-head race is going. The results come back and your candidate is down 25 points. Do you release the results? Of course not. You wait for some bad news about your opposition--Green tied to Tom DeLay or Doyle looks bad in Travelgate. Time to take another poll. This time, your candidate is only five points behind--within the margin of error.
Get the news out immediately! Not only will it help in fundraising because the heavy-breathers like winners, it boosts the candidate's morale.
Now, if you release the poll from your candidate's headquarters, the results might be suspect. The media might not even cover the story. So, how do you package your "results" to maximize the impact? You work with a group with a name that suggests non-partisanship. You know, like Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. WPRI. Wow, now you are cookin'. Wisconsin--good start--our focus. "Policy" good feeling--not politics but policy. "Research" now you are wooing them. This is not phony it is based on research. And finally, not from a campaign but from an "Institute" no less.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel carried a major story from WPRI recently: "Feeling grumpy?" A poll showed most Badgers think we are on the wrong track. Advantage Green. Worse, 39 percent think things will "get worse." Solution? How about a new governor? (They didn't say that. They didn't have to. People who take the poll seriosly will reach that conclusion on their own.)
Most people will believe the poll results are legitimate. It comes from a non-partisan institute and the MJS heralds it as fact. Do we know who funds WPRI? Do we know who shaped the questions? Do we know how many polls were not released? No and hell no.
But, in the nod toward journalism, the last sentence in the long story says, "WPRI is a privately funded think tank..and generally associated with conservative positions." I am not making this up. Think tank. Really? The extremist Bradley Foundation funds WPRI. And "generally associated with conservsative positions"? How about killing government through TABOR; vouchers; funding The Bell Curve?
Generally associated with conservative positions??? I challenge the reporter to name one progressive position WPRI has supported. Stay glued to your chair. The think tank is thinking hard.
June 28, 2006
When I saw an e-mail from the Doyle-Lawton campaign with the subject line "Critical Deadline This Friday," I said, "be still my heart." The People's Legislature had set this Friday as a deadline for the governor to meet with TPL about their call for a special session to pass SB 1. Was this the response we had been waiting for?
I quickly opened the message. Imagine my surprise when it was a reminder we must make contributions to their campaigns to "Keep Wisconsin Blue!" And their new "contribution system will allow us to track your contributions in real time." I'm not making this up. In the aftermath of convictions, grand jury investigations and the fog of corruption, the money chase continues. Not even a respectful moment of reflection. Talk about tone deaf.
Meantime, the TPL committee is having no luck setting up a meeting with the very busy governor and it looks as if nomination petitions will start circulating
Meantime flag burning heats up. Good for Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold for voting against this absurd distraction. It failed by one vote so we can be proud of both our senators.
June 27, 2006
There goes reform?
The Supreme Court has done it again in striking down Vermont's campaign finance law. Once again they equate money with speech. Not since Plessey v. Ferguson has the Court made such a blunder. Money = Speech. Like hell. If one guy owns the TV station and the other has a bullhorn, is that fair?
Ask yourself. Is it fair that Bill Gates could but New York and a couple of Senate seats? Do we really want a plutocracy or would democracy fit better? When John Corzine ran for the Senate from New Jersey he spent $59 million on his campaign. Herb Kohl has no opponent. Why? He could spend a hundred million dollars and still afford dinner at the club. Corzine and Kohl certainly have a lot of "free speech" as defined by our plutocrats on the court.
Wisconsin should try to find the loophole in the court's decision. Vermont's limits were "too low," but a majority accepts some limit on contributions. And even if not, we can fund our campaigns with tax dollars. Isn't it time? And the governor is still uncertain if he will call a special session. Whoa Nelly! (One more story like the Spivak & Bice column on Sunday and it probably won't matter.)
June 26, 2006
Keeping pressure on!
Mark Green seems to have captured the moment by saying if he had been governor SB 1 would be law. He wants a pit bull special prosecutor on campaign enforcement.
Governor Doyle says a special session would be fine if the Republicans would vote for SB 1. (Republicans and Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of it 28-5.) Why not call the session, demand a robust debate, and make it clear any weakening of SB 1 would be vetoed? (That idea came from Gene Farley and was endorsed by the People's Legislative session on Saturday.)
When asked who supported SB 1 all 200 hands went up. When asked if they support a special session, all hands were raised. So what is the problem? Some ask why we spend taxpayer money on a special session. I've done some checking. Other than per diem for legislators and mileage, the costs are insignificant. Hell, Fighting Bob Inc. can hold a fundraiser to help pay. My guess is the cost would be under ten grand. Small price to pay.
June 25, 2006
A good crowd arrived in Madison for TPL's short-notice session and they were treated to some of the best talks I've heard since the last Bob Fest. E. Michael McCann, Milwaukee DA and Caucus scandal prosecutor (along with a courageous Brian Blanchard), asked the question, "Do you think utilities contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic causes because they believe, like we do, in health care for all our citizens and a higher minimum wage? Do you?" And the crowd responded.
McCann read from the John Doe transcript. Damning to say the least. It was a brilliant performance. Mike disappointed many when he said he would not run for governor.
Some accused the TPL of Doyle-bashing but left in charge of a liaison committee to contact the governor to meet with TPL. We will also set up a meeting with Mark Green. (There didn't seem to be any Green supporters willing to identify themselves.)
Nino Amato made a rock-solid case about the politics of utility regulation and the need for reform.
Mike McCabe gave his usual connect-the-dots speech and left little for speculation.
Bert Grover gave a speech all progressives would applaud and the crowd did. It was old-fashioned, economic reality for the majority of people in our state who aren't able to attend expensive fundraisers. He had us laughing, sometimes close to tears, but applauding throughout. There is plenty of fight in that dog. Many urged Grover to challenge Doyle in the Democratic primary.
All of it was captured on video tape (digital actually). You will want a copy.
Marotta's back in the news: Read Spivak & Bice in today's MJS. Read and ask if our system needs reform. Ask...well, you know what to ask. And some wonder why we met yesterday?
June 24, 2006
Bill Kraus, our regular Friday guest blogger writes , "Please go away." Read his message and ask what it will take to move the system off the money rail. My bet is on the People's Legislature, Fighting Bob Fest and this site--our progressive home. But it ain't easy, Duffy, it ain't easy.
Events overtake us because we have no strategy--only tactics. Why? Because we now have a government of full-time, semi-permenant professional office holders surrounded by public relations and fundraising professionals who present us with Hobsen's Choices all the time. "If you don't elect A, then B will do awful things...reform? Next term, my top priority." And on it goes.
So, today, the People's Legislature meets with all of four days notice. Time to move forward.
June 23, 2006
Who knows how many people will make it to the People's Legislature event at the Labor Temple in Madison on S. Park Street at 10 a.m. tomorrow, to talk about the upcoming gubernatorial election? E. Michael McCann will be there and will be interviewed on "Here and Now," Wisconsin Public Television's Friday program. Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign will talk through the reform package. Stan Gruszynski will share his thoughts, and Nino Amato will discuss the need for PSC reform. Bert Grover will bring his fiery speech to warm the crowd.
Mark Green told WPR he would release his reform package today and Jim Doyle said he'd love reform if the Republicans would support reform. Progress. At a minimum they are forced to discuss the corruption issue.
One Wisconsin; "One Wisconsin Now, I (OWN)" is up and walking. Flags flying, red, white and blue all over the Web site. (No burning please. Hillary will get you.) They promise (I'm not making this up) to provide a "one-stop shop for liberals in Wisconsin." They say "we are stronger as a state when we are engaged with a participatory citizenry....working together for the common good."
Yowser! They want one big blog, one big infrastructure, you know, liberals on steroids. Who is "they" you ask? Well, you can't find "they" in their release or on the glitzy Web site, but hey, who needs to know who is funding this expensive new OWN project once known as The Blueprint? Don't be so nosey. I'm sure they will tell you once you are engaged. Their slogan? "OWN Your Voice--OWN Our Future." I'm not kidding. They don't say who is the current owner of your voice, but what the hell. It has a nice sound.
In case you are wondering, one of OWN's very first projects is "Branding Wisconsin." If you have a branding idea, send it in and OWN "will post the best ones." Be still my heart.
I think we'll keep our FightingBob.com site going and we'll see you at Bob Fest. Speaking of our voices...
June 22, 2006
While neither Mark Green, GOP nominee for governor, nor Jim Doyle, the Democratic choice, have responded to the call for a special session to deal with ethics and campaign reform, there is still time. Some Democrats were not happy and thought we were picking on Jim Doyle. Truth is that both will have to deal with the fog of corruption before either can convince voters they should win.
Dave Zweifel wrote: "Could it be that the fate of Wisconsin Democrats' hold on the governorship now rests in the hands of Steven Biskupic, the Republican-appointed U.S. Attorney?"
What do you think?
June 21, 2006
E. Michael McCann, former Governor Tony Earl and I issued a public challenge to Jim Doyle to call a special legislative session to enact SB 1, ethics reform, and campaign finance reform. Since clean government is not a partisan issue, we challenged Mark Green to get on board as well.
The statement: "Wisconsin has long had a tradition of clean government and clean campaigns. That record has been jeopardized by the caucus scandal and the recent conviction of Georgia Thompson.
"The three of us have spent most of our adult lives engaged in public service and we believe the problems now facing our state government must be addressed on an urgent basis.
"We call upon Governor Doyle to immediately call a special session of the legislature to enact ethics reform and campaign finance reform. It is not enough to promise that things will be better in the future.
"The people of our state deserve the full attention of the Governor and the legislature as the fog of corruption hangs over our state. This is not a partisan issue and we call on Mark Green to support a special session and enactmebt of meaningful ethics and campaign finance reform.
"Finally, we invite you to attend a session of The People's Legislature on Saturday from 10-2 in Madison, to review all options."
Join us on Saturday. We need hell raisers not fund raisers.
June 20, 2006
What to say?
I feel rather passive about the fact that Scott Jensen will not go to prison now. He may never serve a day but his career sure hit a high speed bump.
The part that bothers me is that a poor person would normally go right to the slammer. Equal justice? And of course, had Scott gone to prison we would have had another prison reform advoate. Funny how tough these guys are in the Legislature,passing loopey laws like "Truth in Sentencing" and urging longer sentences, tougher conditions, indeed a Supermax. But let's face it. They don't see themselves or people who look like them, who shop in the expensive stores, and have a drink at the Madison Club, going to the hell-holes they have created for "them." You know. Minorities, uneducated, poor folks. "They" deserve punishment every day.
Ah, yes, the wheels of justice.
June 19, 2006
Is Milwaukee County facing a fiscal crisis because of County Executive Scott Walker's incompetent leadership or is it due to the policies Scott Walker pushed as a legislator? ("Both" is an acceptable answer.)
I really like Milwaukee. I think of the tremendous park system; Summerfest and all the ethnic festivals; the museum, river walk, and dedicated teachers. I think of Frank Zeidler and his can-do spirit. And then I think of the Milwaukee of Scott Walker. Milwaukee under Walker is considering ending several bus routes, raising fares, closing nearly all swimming pools in 2007 (33 in the City)outsoursing jobs, privatizing the parks...and the draconian list goes on.
Welcome to Milwaukee. A glimpse into the future of how we will live in the next decade. Third-world status comes to Wisconsin.
C'mon folks! We can't let this happen.
June 18, 2006
And the occupation goes on!
It is amazing to watch the dance around the real issues in Iraq. Hillary Clinton won't take a position on either side of the troops-home-now controversy. She won't even press Bush for details of his plan. If he has a plan.
Meanwhile, we have passed the 2,500 mark for our young soldiers killed and another 18,000 who will carry wounds for life, and Frank Rich reports on a Brookings Institution Iraq index. Catch this: 87 percent of Iraqis want a timeline for American withdrawal and 47 percent approve of attacks on American troops! And they are on "our" side?
Hillary. A question. If the Iraqi government follows the will of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis and asks us to leave, what say you?
Do we condemn the Parliment for "cutting and running"? Why do you suppose the Prime Minister, al-Maliki, looked like he had a dispeptic stomach in his moment in the sun with the most disliked man in the world, G.W. Bush? If he thinks like a politician he must have been thinking, "Who is responsible for this stupid idea?"
Doyle: Could it get worse? Now the jurors are saying out loud what insiders have been whispering. Did Georgia Thompson act alone or was she nudged? And, if what the out-spoken juror believes is true, who nudged her? And is the public speculation fatal to Doyle? And why is Marc Marrotta, campaign chair of Doyle's re-election, in Africa during this crisis?
Come home, Marc, come home.
June 17, 2006
The NYT reports, "It is his ability to communicate with ordinary Mexicans, especially the poor, that makes him a dangerous man." Worse, Obrador may "whip up anger against the rich"...some critics compare him with Hugo Chavez.
Imagine that. A candidate for president of Mexico who might help the poor at the expense of the rich. Oh, no. Helping the poor?
He "has vowed to end sweetheart deals for government contracts" and he wants business and the wealthy to pay their taxes. Sound familiar?
Class warfare in Mexico looks a lot like their neighbor to the north. The presidential race is a dead heat. Watching with interest--those who stole the 2000 election in our country.
June 16, 2006
Shame on Hugo!
Shame on Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela. Shame! He is offering free eye surgery and discounted heating oil to poor people in Chicago and Milwaukee through Venezuela-owned Citgo. Who does he think he is? Doeen't he know W-2 eliminated poverty in Wisconsin? Shame on you, President Chavez.
What's next? Money for our schools? We don't need it 'cause we have vouchers!
No wonder Bush and his oil buddies tried to overthrow Chavez. Discounts for poor people instead of hand-outs for the wealthy? What about the poor American, British, and Dutch oil companies? Should they lower prices at the pump? C'mon! Get real. Let the free market roll. Keep your discounts, Mr. Chavez. Our poor folks are happy. Don't rile them up.
June 15, 2006
Unsettled in Madison
The more the Doyle people try to assure the media and the people that the conviction of Georgia Thompson has nothing to do with the governor, the more ridiculous they appear. Why? Well because it is not credible to think that a mid-level bureaucrat pushed for Adelman travel just for the hell of it. And when the Governor says he did not ask Marc Marrota about his conversations with old Doyle pal Craig Adelman, the worse it looks.
The problem is that Adelman and Fromstein are well-connected politically, smart, and sophisticated. Who knows? Maybe they contacted Georgia Thompson. It is a mystery but the media won't let go of this story. And the longer it hangs around, the more unlikely it is that Doyle can win.
Can't someone in the Doyle-Lawton administration take the lead? Time is running out.
Oshkosh Daily Northwestern. Read our GuestBlog on Taycheedah. Time for reform? About a century late but let's get started!
June 14, 2006
Democrats: You have a problem
The conviction of a bureaucrat, seemingly way outside the inner circle of politics in Madison, would not be a big deal in isolation. But it comes on the heels of the Caucus scandals, the convictions of top legislative leaders, and a steadfast refusal of Governor Jim Doyle to get on board the clean-up-Wisconsin express.
He didn't support SB 1; he hasn't taken a lead on campaign finance reform; and he has been the most aggresive Democratic fund raiser, from the wrong sources for a Democrat, in our state's history.
In response to the Georgia Thompson conviction he has assumed the posture of the piano player in the lobby not knowing what was going on upstairs. The JS reports this: "He also said he didn't know if Marotta--then secretary of Administration--had discussed the contract with Adelman officials when the decision was made to go to a best and final offer."
Marotta is a close ally of the governor. One of the few in a small inner-circle surrounding (suffocating?) Doyle. Are we to believe that over the time this matter has been pending the governor did not ask his friend and campaign chair what he knew and when? C'mon.
To compound the problem, the chair of the Democratic Party proves he is tone deaf. "Joe Weineke said he is confident the prosecutor's case will stop with Thompson." How can he be so sure? Is the prosecutor talking to Wineke? I doubt it. But then he reduces the entire campaign to the sorry state of national politics: "If Mark Green wants to play gotcha, we've got a lot of gotchas on him."
How would you like to explain the "gotcha" mentality to young students?
It has been suggested we convene a special session of The People's Legislature to discuss the mess we find ourselves in. Stay tuned. Gotcha!
June 13, 2006
Bad news for Doyle
The headline in MJS: "Official convicted in travel deal" was not the news Jim Doyle needed to launch his campaign for reelection. While the U.S. Attorney said the trial was about "Georgia Thompson and Georgia Thompson alone" no one believes that for a New York minute. The fact is that two very sophisticated and knowledgeable people, Mitch Fromstein and Craig Adelman, made large contributions to the Doyle campaign.
The Republican Chair, Rick Graber predictably jumped on the story--"shows har far this administration is willing to go to reward political cronies and campaign donors." (Apparently Graber lived in Dick Cheney's bunker while Tommy Thompson and "Scooter" Jensen ruled Wisconsin. The king of fund raising and his prince.)
Mark Green called for a reform we have advocated for years--ban campaign contributions from officials seeking state contracts. Simple enough. How about it Governor? Makes so much sense you will not be able to articulate a reason to oppose this reform.
The really bad news is that few people I talk with think that this is all about Georgia Thompson. While Doyle probably kept his distance his fund raisers have missed very few opportunities to raise money from vendors or utilities seeking favors.
Marc Marotta talked with Adelman executives as did Doyle prior to the awarding of the travel contract. Marotta told MJS he would be "out of the country and unavailable for comment." Didn't say if he is raising money abroad.
Take it to the bank. This issue will define the gubernatorial race this year. Too bad. What happened to Wisconsin?
June 12, 2006
Is That So?
Every now and then, the conclusion is inevitable that our best minds are not in the U.S. Senate or the House. Or maybe they are and they are surrounded by fools. Frank Rich brings proof on two issues: banning gay unions and immigration.
Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, proclaimed "that in his family's recorded history there has never been any kind of homosexual relationship." He said that. I'm not making this up. Now, I don't know about your family, but most families do not "record" every relationship in or out of a bedroom. Rich added:"Any bets on how long before someone unearths the Inhofes' unrecorded history?"
Then our very own Jim Sensenbrenner proclaimed that employers who hire illegal aliens are akin to 19th-century slave masters "that we had to fight a civil war to get rid of." As Rich points out, for that historical analolgy to add up, you'd have to believe that Africans sought voluntarily to immigrate to America. Whether Sensenbrenner is out to insult Arfrican Americans or is merely a fool is a distinction without a difference."
Thank you Frank Rich and special thanks to Inhofe and Jamie S. You keep us smiling.
Gitmo Suicides: The military spokesman, defending Gitmo, said that the three who killed themselves were working together. The suicides, now under investigation, constituted an act of war. (Is Inhofe writing this stuff?)Expect release of a report soon that all three are dead.
June 11, 2006
Fog of War
Three new suicides at Gitmo. All three left notes but the Bush administration won't release them. Even in death the near-anonymous prisoners cannot be heard. This prison is a travesty. Holding people for years without charges, without cousel, without a hearing is possibly the most outrageous act since the invasion of Iraq.
The death of Zarqawi. We personalize all issues. It is much easier than dealing with underlying causes. Kill a Hammas leader and Israel is safe; kill an Al-Qaeda terrorist and we win in Iraq; kill a Taliban leader and Afghanistan is saved. The reality is that so much bad news is flowing from all three battles that cekebration of the death of one man rises to the level of the absurd. All I know is that Iraq is chaos. One killing won't establish law and order.
Straw Polls: Peg Lautenshlager won a straw poll conducted by Wis Politics. OK, so what? Who asked Wis Politics to conduct a poll and isn't it just a diversion? Remember when Alan Cranston bussed in people to the Milwaukee convention and won the straw poll? Oh well, polls are easier than reporting.
June 10, 2006
The right implodes
Ann Coulter, the doyenne of the Fox News set, may join Joe McCarthy in regretting her target--widows of 9/11 tragedy--as much as "Tailgunner Joe" must have wished he had not attacked the Army as a hideout for pinkos. McCarthy's career tanked when he was asked by Joseph Welch, "Have you no decency sir?"
Well Ann, have you no decency? She had these comments in "Godless: The Church of Liberalism": The women (widows) who pushed Bush to investugate the government's failures before 9/11, are "self-obsessed and acting as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them." And now, the line that will haunt her: "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." I'm not making this up. NYT reported on the book.
"How do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies?" (I'm not sure but I suspect "Harpies" is a slur on the Irish.) She then urged them "to hurry up and appear in Playboy" before it is too late. Whoa Nelly!
Bye-bye Ann Coulter.
And the Dixie Chicks are doing just fine. Despite the boycott of the Chicks for comments about president Bush, their new album hit the top of the charts immediately. Nice. Maybe, just maybe, America is finding itself.
June 9, 2006
How do we know the Democratic Party will meet tonight and Saturday in La Crosse where the most exciting event will be a straw poll on the AG's race? We know because an e-mail arrived from the Doyle-Lawton campaign with the subject line: "What you'll hear from the convention."
The text of the message was all about stem cell research. Exclusively about stem cell research. Know why? Because they sure as hell don't want to discuss campaign finance reform and the governor's lack of leadership on the issue, not to mention his questionable fundraising from state vendors, utilities and casino advocates. So stem cell research it will be.
An important issue for certain, but is that the main reason people should choose Doyle over Green? How about health care for the poor in the face of closing emergency rooms where the poor seek help? Could we focus on high tuition, declining state support of our university, privatization efforts in Milwaukee, the economic crisis in Milwaukee County, exploding prison population, mistreatment of inmates at Taycheedah? Too controversial? Yikes!
But delegates will hear from Herb Kohl, lots of incumbents and lots of bad things about Republicans. I suspect most delegates would prefer to hear how we plan to defeat the death penalty and anti-gay referendums; a clear plan to get our troops home from Iraq; a tax plan that will spread the burden of our schools and our social welfare costs. How can we lower tuition, improve our schools, and gain some control over the out-of-control utilities.
Yes, delegates will learn how lucky they are to be Democrats, but it is time to put some meat on the plate.
June 8, 2006
Let us help you
The incompetence of this administration is a compelling story. From the FEMA-Katrina disaster to the god-awful rebuilding of Iraq where gangs now rule, the administration is blinded by arrogance and staff who have little knowledge of other lands, other cultures.
The efforts of the CIA to weaken Islamist forces in Somalia actually "empowered the same Islamic forces it was intended to marginalize" and the Islamists have defeated the CIA's warlords. The NYT reports that lots of money flowed from CIA operatives to warlords. One official said, "They were fully aware they were [involved] without any strategic framework." Said another, "This has blown up on our face. We've strengthened the hand of the people whose presence we worried the most about." Sound familiar?
Our troops are targets in a lawless society in Iraq for the same reason. No long-term thinking beyond war profiteering and domestic politics. Remember "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"? Result? Disaster.
The question remains, who is looking over their shoulders? Take a peak at our brave Senator Arlen Specter. He is mad as hell. About what? "...at lunch yesterday I walked directly in front of you [Dick Cheney] on at least two occasions en route from the buffet to my table" and Cheney never told him the administration was undermining his efforts to subpoena phone executives. (I am not making this up. Specter released this pathetic letter to the media. Yee gods.)
Makes me wonder what Arlen had for dessert.
With supplicants at the table like Specter, what chance is there for us? No wonder the administration treats Congress with bemused disdain.
June 7, 2006
Not that we need another incentive to make the 5th Fighting Bob Fest our best, but now and then we receive a gift of motivation. Bob Dohnal, publisher of Wisconsin-based Conservative Digest, wrote about Bob Fest. He called it "a liberal hate-fest" that attracts "wild-eyed leftwing activists" who disparage conservatives with incredible amounts of vitriol." Whoa Nelly! (My subscription to Conservative Digest must have expired, so thank you Wisconsin Center for Pluralism for this report.)
So, if you are ready to join thousands of "wild-eyed" progressives on September 9, you won't be disappointed.
John Stauber will be there with Jim Hightower and Gwen Moore. Mike McCabe, Tammy Baldwin and "Granny D" will help to "hold them accountable." And our friend Amy Goodman will attend her first Fighting Bob Fest. (How would we begin our day without Amy?)
And more will be announced. But as our volunteers meet tonight we may dedicate our efforts to Bob Dohnal. Thanks, Bob, and feel free to join us in Baraboo.
June 6, 2006
Yah, sure Ole
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections has a problem or two. The U.S. Department of Justice threatens to sue the state unless conditions improve at Taycheedah, the over-crowded and under-staffed women's prison.
Todd Winstrom of Disability Rights Wisconsin says the problems are system-wide and he is on the money. Winstrom told Gil Halsted of Wisconsin Public Radio that problems include placing mentally ill prioners in isolation and guards dispensing medications without proper training, and that all of that is exacerbated by a severe shortage of trained psychiatric staff.
His partial remedy would add 50 full-time psychologists, 17 full-time psychiatrists and 100 full-time certified nursing assistants or licensed practical nurses.
DOC can handle the problems, according to John Dipko of DOC. They will have a report on needed changes in seven prisons later this summer. And now the DOC qualifer: "Finding the money to hire staff needed, (and you can bet DOC will not agree with Todd Winstrom's list) will take place over several biennial budgets." In other words: never.
One would think that DOC would know how to deal with mentally ill inmates but it doesn't. Why? It takes political courage to speak out for the prison population. They don't vote, they don't make campaign contributions, and they are grist for the politicians' campaign mill. You know, "I'm tougher on criminals than my opponent," and other nonsense.
Where is the leadership? I forgot. They are building more prisons in the name of economic development.
June 4, 2006
Spain's most prominent investigative magistrate has called on the U.S. to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. "A model like Guantanamo is an insult to countries that respect law," Baltasar Garzón said. The NY Times report adds, "It is a place that needs to disappear immediately."
He joins Lord Goldsmith, Britain's Attorney General, who called on us to close it in a speech last month. The Spanish Magistrate, Garzon, added, "We are on the road to committing crimes against humanity. And it will move the people who perpetrated the crimes to the the people who authorized them."
Wow! Can't say it much better. Our image in the world will never recover from this invasion, occupation and disregard for international law. But we must start down that path. Now.
June 3, 2006
"Layoffs begin for schools" is the headline in the Cap Times. Forty-one teaching posiitons will be cut in the Madison school district. A story repeated in every school district in Wisconsin. Is this because Madison schools have a surplus of teachers? C'mon. We know why. The Lobbyist's Legislature always has enough scratch to give tax breaks to corporations or outright grants but won't take care of the needs of our next generation. Shame on them, and shame on us for not raising more hell.
The dumbing-down of our citizens continues. The efforts to privatize our schools continues. Where is the leadership? Where is the great state University of Wisconsin? Has the idea held by La Follette of "this special place--Wisconsin" been abandoned? I fear it has.
Time to "hold them accountable" which happens to be Fighting Bob Fest's theme this year. If leaders won't lead, the people must!
June 2, 2006
In light of the Haditha tragedy, the Bush adminstration is ready to move. No, they are not ready to blame those who covered up the mass murder; they want to put our soldiers through "ethics" training. I'm not making this up. Ethics training. How but truth training for Rumsfeld?
John McCain, (a/k/a Friend of Falwell or FOF) referred to the Haditha "episode." And, i'm not making this up: "It is too soon to tell whether this episode will undermine support for the war." Earth to FOF, Earth to McCain: "What support for the war?"
In the meantime, the Prime Minister of Iraq has condemned "habitual attacks on civilians" by U.S. troops. He said our troops "do not respect the Iaqi people." Last time I checked, there is a chain of command. If the PM is correct, someone should knock on Rumsfeld's door and tell him to bring his play book.
Can it get worse? Oh, yes. Time for Congress to wake up.
June 1, 2006
Finally the media is beginning to discuss how American options in the world have been whittled down to diplomacy. Imagine that. The nation that pushed to create the League of Nations and the United Nations with a simple theme that talking is better than fighting, is suddenly finding that no nation, not even ours, can impose its will on other nations. At least not for long.
President Bush is out of money, out of fresh troops, out of political capital. With the majority of Americans opposed to the occupation of Iraq, things going badly in Afghanistan, and the president's approval rating at 32 percent, imagine what would happen if he invaded Iran. Or bombed Iran and hundreds of thousands of Iranians headed for Iraq. A scenario that leaves one gasping for breath.
So today's headlines that we will join the European talks with Iran are more than welcome. It is about time.